​Third graders across Sonoma will receive their very own dictionary this winter, thanks to the Kiwanis Club of Sonoma Plaza. “This is our 1​7​th year,” said Suzanne Berube, who is in charge of the project.

All 3​00 third graders in public and charter elementary schools in the Sonoma Valley Unified School District will receive a new fully-illustrated Merriam-Webster Children’s Dictionary. In support of local business, Kiwanis has partnered with Readers’ Books to supply the dictionaries.

Berube, the club’s dictionary committee chair, calls this one of the most “joyful and rewarding” service projects in the club’s 3​2​-year history.

Kiwanis members are visiting all seven Valley elementary schools.

“Third grade is often considered the moment in a student’s life when she or he makes the transition from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’ — a make-or-break period for academic success,” says Berube.

After thousands of books given out over the years, some of the earliest recipients are now graduating from college.

Teachers provide the names and volunteers present the books in classrooms or during assemblies.

“The purpose of the project for us is to encourage reading, discovery and curiosity,” said Berube.