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September 6, 2012

By TIFFANY HOLLAND/Danville Register and Bee 

In an attempt to improve local literacy rates, Smart Beginnings of Danville and Pittsylvania County is working with the local libraries to get children reading in their earliest years.

"Wednesdays for Wees" is a story-telling event for children up to age 5 that will take place every Wednesday from 10 to 11 a.m. at all the library branches. It officially begins Sept. 12.

"The purpose of ‘Wednesdays for Wees' is to increase the number of families with young children who utilize local libraries and to increase awareness about the importance of pre-literacy," said Ann Vandervliet Stratton, the executive director of Smart Beginnings Danville Pittsylvania in an email. "We are impressed by the enthusiastic collaboration between the Danville and Pittsylvania County library systems."

The readings will continue throughout the school year at the same time every week so people can get in a habit of using the libraries.

Melanie McLarty, the school transition coordinator for Smart Beginnings, said she hopes this will increase the library use and is the beginning of many collaborations with the library.

"Children need to read and be read to," said McLarty. She also said the program is a good learning tool for students not enrolled in a preschool to get some experience before kindergarten.

"What we find is there are lots of families and friends and neighbors that do take care of children," said McLarty. "This offers a pre-literacy activity to do at the library."

To kick off "Wednesdays for Wees" on Sept. 12 there will be a "celebrity" story teller at each library including local athletes and media figures. Racecar driver Peyton Sellers will be at the Mount Hermon library and Danville Braves assistant general manager Bob Kitzmiller will be at the Chatham branch.

If the program proves to be successful, organizers may add to it.