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Fredericksburg Head Start students grow their home libraries with a book featuring the Rappahannock River.
Three-year-olds in Fredericksburg's Head Start program perform 'ABC Rock' Friday during the year-end ceremony.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 5/5/2012
The 3-year olds lined up Friday morning to show their parents what they've learned in preschool all year.
In the sweltering gymnasium of the original Walker-Grant School building, the Head Start students sang "ABC Rock," a song that involves shouting the alphabet at the top of your lungs.
As the youngsters screamed in rhythm, Betty Ellett sat at a desk in the back of the room, signing her name to 51 books.
Each of the preschoolers received an autographed copy of Ellett's latest book, "ABC's From the Rappahannock River, With Love."
More than 150 other Fredericksburg Head Start students will get their books in the middle of the month.
The 3-year olds snagged books at an end-of-the-year ceremony celebrating their accomplishments.
The youngsters sang and danced for their parents in front of a shelf of alphabet books. Throughout the schoolyard, the kids devoured these colorful volumes.
But during the summer, many of these students wouldn't have such easy access to books--if not for book giveaways like the one on Friday.
Head Start is a preschool for low-income families, who often have to choose between paying bills and buying books. But the Head Start staff members are dedicated to ensuring that each child has books at home.
"We are promoting home libraries," said Trudy Smith, Fredericksburg Head Start director. "We know that the most important thing you can do is read to your children."
This year, Head Start leaders have given away seven books, including "ABC's From the Rappahannock River, With Love."
And this last book giveaway is particularly sweet, because Ellett, a Fredericksburg resident and author, is a familiar face to the students, Smith said.
Ellett has served as the family literacy specialist for 20 years.
In 2009, she published "ABC's From Ghana, With Love" after two church mission trips to the West African country.
After that book, someone suggested she write a follow-up focusing on the Rappahannock River. Ellett lives near the river and loved the idea of using it to promote literacy.
She was thrilled to give the books to preschoolers Friday morning. As she handed the books out, Ellett said to parents, "The single most important thing you can do at home to ensure their success at school is to read to your children every day."
Amy Flowers Umble: 540/735-1973