"So I can build my vocabulary:" Elementary school students thrilled to receive dictionaries for free!

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee elementary school students know him as "The Dictionary Man." He helps to carry on his wife's legacy while at the same time, helping sharpen students' literacy.

On Tuesday, October 14th, students at Milwaukee's Capitol West Academy were thrilled to receive their new dictionaries.

First-grader Khiya Hardin knows how to use it.

"So I can build my vocabulary," Hardin said.

That's the goal of an Elmbrook Rotary Club program called "Diane's Dictionaries." The program is responsible for donating pictionaries and dictionaries to first-graders and fourth-graders in an effort to improve literacy.

"She was a great reader. Loved books. Loved reading," Barry James said.

James was married to Diane. Diane died unexpectedly in 2009. After her death, her family helped to establish the "Diane's Dictionaries" program at Capitol West, and it continues to grow.

"The warmness that I get is that these young people are really learning. And, of course, the dictionary is--you can span the world with it, so it gives me a good feeling, and it's a legacy to my first wife," James said.

James says over the past five years, the program has donated more than 1,000 pictionaries and dictionaries to students at three Milwaukee schools.

"It's really neat to see how excited they are about finding new words and increasing their vocabulary," Annie Collins said.

Collins is Capitol West Academy's coordinator of teaching and learning.

"A lot of our families do not have discretionary income to buy books of their own, and so this is a great opportunity to put a book in every students' hand," Collins said.

James says when the initial funding for the dictionary donation program is exhausted, the Elmbrook Rotary Club has agreed to provide money to keep the effort going.