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Transformational family literacy program expands to 17 Georgia public libraries

GPLS News, February 2018

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The Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy has awarded a mini-grant to Georgia Public Library Service to help fund expansion of PRIME TIME Family Reading Time to 17 public libraries across Georgia.

Developed by the Louisiana Endowment of the Humanities in 1991, the program aims to create the precondition for future learning among economically and educationally vulnerable families. Over a six-week period, children and their families are introduced to award-winning, illustrated, and culturally diverse stories followed by discussion that encourage a love of reading and the library. The program demonstrates how literature can enrich one’s life, models strategies for continued family bonding through literature, and provides families critical information on library resources for continued reading once the program ends.

“We are so proud that PRIME TIME is expanding in Georgia and grateful to the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy for investing in our children’s future,” said Elaine Black, director of youth services at GPLS.

PRIME TIME is a way that libraries can impact the lives of community members who may not be avid readers and show them that books are not just for school. They also can be a source for family fun and bonding. Barriers to participation are removed - dinner is provided, as well as activities for any younger siblings who may attend.

“Book discussions center on some of life’s bigger issues - What does it mean to be brave? What does it mean to be fair? The program encourages critical thinking skills as it also provides a way for non traditional library users to talk about books without hurdles or judgment,” said Elaine Black.

PRIME TIME programs are proven to generate long-term improvements in family engagement and student academic achievement. They also have an impact that is visible to those in the room.

“One dad attended, reluctantly, the first session and was really unsure about why his family should participate. He sat in a chair behind his wife and daughter on the floor as the first book was read. As the discussion started though, he began to nod along to some comments. By the time the second book began, he was sitting next to his daughter and reading the book with her. He became very involved in the discussion and afterward, he asked if the program could run longer than six weeks because it was so wonderful!” said Mary Wood, Community Engagement Librarian at the Cobb County Public Library System.