Each year, Hawaii Rotarians gift a paperback dictionary to every third grader in the Hawaiian Islands as part of the organization’s effort to increase childhood literacy. As part of the gifting process, Rotarians, teachers, and keiki sit together, going on a journey of discovery as they explore their dictionaries. Besides basic word information, these books are packed with 150 extra pages of enlightening information on our country, our world, and our universe. 
Why give paperback dictionaries in this digital age? The Rotary Club of Honolulu Sunset, which sponsors Jefferson, Noelani and Hokulani Elementary schools answers the question. Debra Goforth, Honolulu Sunset's Director of Youth Services, says, "It may well be the first serious book that child has ever owned. The children are fascinated!  Do we have fun giving out the dictionaries?  You bet!  It's quite an exciting and fulfilling endeavor!   The students are so excited.  They ask: Can I write my name in it?  Can I take it home?  We answer a resounding yes!  One child said, ‘I’m going to use this when I get to college!’
"We want children to become good writers, active readers, creative thinkers and resourceful learners. Owning and using this tool expands students' vocabularies, broadens their horizons and opens new worlds.  It builds their self-confidence and their resourcefulness.  It's an exciting and fulfilling endeavor," says Debra.
Enhancing literacy is just one of Rotary's many ongoing pursuits.  Locally, Honolulu Sunset addresses urgent social issues including health education, Women in Need, homeless outreach, HUGS for critically ill children, school STEM programs, the Men's Shed and Vets in Transition, among many others.  Internationally, the club pitches in to provide clean water, medical help, vocational training and solve literacy needs and the big one, to eradicate polio.
"As Rotarians, we use a four-way test to guide our behavior: Is it the truth?  Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and better friendships?  Will it be beneficial to all concerned?  This is such an important value statement that we stamp it in the front of each book as we prepare the books for giving," says Debra.