The Lincoln Elementary School gym was filled on Thursday with 120 excited third-graders who anxiously flipped through their new dictionaries courtesy of Yaro and Mary Chmelar. Since 2005, the couple has chosen a day to deliver books to every third-grader in Washington County.
Yaro said the idea formed when the couple gave their granddaughter a book for Christmas. He said she carried it around everywhere and together the couple decided every kid her age in Washington County should get a book to call their own. Since 2005 the Chmelars have donated just under 2,500 books.
“It’s just important to keep a book in these kids’ hands,” he said.
Mary said watching the students’ faces light up when they get the dictionary is her favorite part. Watching their faces light up as they sit down to read a book of their own is what encourages her to keep donating books year after year. She said being able to give them something that is theirs and provides a pride in ownership is a valuable lesson for them to learn because she said she feels it helps them take it seriously.
“It’s just so important because for them to fit into society they have got to learn to read and write,” Mary said.
The Chmelars have spent time researching to find the perfect book and finally landed on the Houghton Mifflin Children’s Dictionary because it offers graphics to go with the words which they hope will entice students into reading more.
“The teachers tell me that when they have free reading they get this book out and read it,” she said. “Hopefully this will spark their curiosity.”