Early on Wednesday evening, 31 children and parents gather in the meeting room of the Appleton Public Library. About half are Hmong and a third Hispanic. They've come to share a meal, spend family time together and to help their children become better readers. Volunteers (shown at right), library staff, a storyteller and a scholar are there to help. It's Prime Time Family Reading Time.
Prime Time is a program originated by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. We've done it here in Appleton before, and our Children's staff has done great work to create multilingual opportunities for non-English speaking parents. Working with the schools and other agencies, we're able to identify and offer the program to families where the children need help with their reading. The program promotes family literacy and parents reading to children, turning families into library users.
Paraphrasing the LEH website: this is a six week program of reading, discussion, and storytelling for children age 6-10 their parents, and younger siblings. The APL program is adapted for families speaking Spanish & English as well as Hmong & English. Several participants have told staff they appreciate the opportunity to practice and sharpen their English language skills in this supportive atmosphere.
In each session, a storyteller demonstrates effective reading-aloud techniques, and a scholar leads discussions. Discussions center on humanities themes, such as fairness, greed and dreams, using award-winning and culturally diverse children’s books. Staff promotes library use by introducing resources: books on parenting and health care, homework help, ESL and GED materials for parents, newspapers and magazines.
PRIME TIME transforms families into lifelong readers. It creates the precondition for all learning and helps to end the cycle of inter-generational illiteracy.The APL program is funded by generous grants from the J. J. Keller Foundation and the Doug and Carla Salmon Foundation, and supported by the hard work of numerous volunteers who help welcome families and serve meals.