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Fredericksburg-area school children will celebrate the Week of the Young Child this April 23 - 29, with a reading program developed by a new partnership between the Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area Virginia Quality program and the Central Rappahannock Regional Library System (CRRL).

“Shhh! We Have a Plan” by Chris Haughton, is the colorful, award-winning children’s picture book selected by the CRRL to be read across the region by local celebrities, Smart Beginnings volunteers and area school teachers.

“Last year we found that there were several different reading programs going on to celebrate the Week of the Young Child,” said Regional Virginia Quality Coordinator Janine Sewell. “Partnering with the CRRL and using the same book across the region strengthens our efforts to educate parents on the critical role reading plays in brain development between 0 and 5.”

Debbie Kestner, director of The Merit School of Stafford Lakes, an NAEYC-accredited and Level 3 Quality program, agreed that being read to is an important part of her students’ lives, whether at childcare or at home. “This reading program brings together the community, schools, and families to support learning and development. Reading aloud to them daily makes them feel cared for and secure.”

Virginia Quality supports this week to improve the level of quality found in each child care center/preschool.

“Reading together as a family will lay a foundation that will last a life time,” says Darcie Caswell, youth services coordinator of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library. Here are our suggestions to get started:

How to Celebrate “Week of the Young Child":

• Attend a Library Grow-a-Reader class. Check schedules at

• Look for Library fast-facts handouts at branches or on Facebook for childhood development statistics.

• Go to for information on early brain development.

• Volunteer to read “Shhh! We have a Plan” at Smart Beginnings Virginia Quality child care programs. Call Janine Sewell at 540-479-6944.

• Make reading a regular part of your day for as long as your child will allow.

• Select books based on your child’s interests.

• Pair reading with activities. Follow The Merit School’s example: Musical Monday, Tacky Art Tuesday, Wrap Around Hand Print Wednesday, Trike-a-Thon Thursday, and Brain Freeze Ice Cream Friday.

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