Third Graders Receive Free Dictionaries in Honor of "Dictionary Day"

GUILFORD, Maine (WABI) - Students from Dover Foxcroft got a new love for reading Monday...dictionaries to be exact.

It's all part of a program that puts dictionaries in the hands of children around the world, including right here in Maine.

"I like that we got our own dictionary and in our class, I kind of want the longest word in the dictionary on our test," says Garrett Rogers, third grader at SeDoMoCha.

You might think in a world full of technology that a group of third graders wouldn't be interested in an old-fashioned dictionary.

But you'd be wrong, at least according to these third graders from Dover-Foxcroft.

"They're like sponges, they just want to learn."

The Folks at Valley Grange in Guilford have made it their mission for the last 16 years to to give third graders free dictionaries as part of the "Words For Thirds" program.

The goal is to boost their vocabularies and send them into the world with a new way of thinking.

Walter Boomsma is the grange's program director.

"We like to see them reading a dictionary. I'm still amazed at how excited the kids get over it. You know you'd think with tablets and apps and games and everything they wouldn't, but you saw it today. They really get engaged by this."

One of the most popular events of the day added a little competition for these elementary students.

"We would all raise our dictionaries and he would say ready, set, go, and we would try to look up the word that he said and whoever got it first got to come up and read the meaning of it," says Payson Hall, third grader at SeDoMoCha.

"We get "thank you" notes sometimes and one of the kids said that was in his class and they said I hate doing the dictionary race because Suzy always wins."

Boomsma says handing a third grader a dictionary full of more than 30,000 words gives them a sense of power.

And of course, he loves seeing the joy on their faces when they realize the importance inside the pages.

"I think that's part of that magic that we have to get these kids learning based on the fact that they want to learn. It's not what we want to teach them."