The Long Beach Public Library Foundation (LBPLF) along with the generosity of literacy supporters throughout Long Beach and a significant gift from the LGA Family Foundation and the Newell Family, funded the purchase of a new dictionary/thesaurus for every Long Beach Unified School District 3rd grade student as part of its 18th annual Dictionary Days program.
In 2003, the LBPLF and the Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation joined forces to create the Dictionary Days program and promote literacy and a love of libraries for local students. Since the program’s inception, over 120,000 new dictionary/thesauruses have been given to Long Beach 3rd grade students. In August 2020, the Library Foundation announced a fundraising campaign to support this year’s 3rd grade class. More than 60 generous community members made gifts of $5 or more to ensure that every student would receive a dictionary/thesaurus. A significant gift from the LGA Family Foundation helped the campaign to raise the more than $16,000 needed to continue the program this school year.
“We believe that with no classes in session and students struggling with online learning this annual program to provide dictionaries to young students is more important than ever and we are pleased to support it,” said Frank Newell.
“Families facing the challenges of distance learning need free educational resources now more than ever,” said a press release from the LBPLF.
According to the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, when children enter the 4th grade their lessons shift. Instead of learning to read, they read to learn. Students who do not read proficiently by 3rd grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma than proficient readers. Record unemployment, the digital divide, and distance learning have made this school year especially difficult for local families. A dictionary/thesaurus in home libraries can help parents and guardians raise resourceful learners and active readers during this crucial time.
“As the Library Foundation celebrates its 25th year serving the Long Beach community, we are proud to continue the Dictionary Days program at a time when Long Beach families need it most,” said Library Foundation Board President M. Lissette Flores. “This would not have been possible without the generosity of those who understand the importance of early literacy to the overall health of youth and the success of our community. Thank you to everyone who donated!”
The Long Beach Unified School District will distribute the dictionary/thesauruses to 3rd grade students during their regular materials distributions in the coming weeks.