The public library is often a place to go for quiet, alone time. However, it can also be a place of learning and growing as a family. The PRIME TIME Family Reading Time program is one of many programs at the Jacksonville Public Library that fosters family growth and healthy discussion. Held April 5 – May 10, the six-week program at West Branch Library touched the lives of eight local families.
“The mission of this program is to bring families into the library setting to learn how to discuss books that they’re reading together and, more importantly, how to comprehend them,” said Kathy Tekin, branch manager at the Webb Wesconnett Regional Library.
The books discussed focused on five important humanity topics: fairness, courage, greed, cleverness and coping. The sessions were once a week from 6:30 ˗ 8:30 p.m. and started with a meal to bring the families together. After the meal, Youth Services Librarians Mia Brack and Michelle Petrin put on interesting and entertaining library commercials for the families with their alligator puppet, Mr. Smiley.
For the discussion portion of the sessions, the children and parents read books that consisted of culturally diverse stories such as The Three Little Pigs. The discussion leader, or scholar, posed questions such as, “Was the wolf guilty?” and “Can you think of a similar situation with fairness?” Through these questions, the parents and guardians learned how to interact with their children while reading and could dive deeper into the real lessons behind the stories.
A father and son at the West Branch Library simply smelled the pizza on the first night of the program and went to check out what was going on. “They ended up staying for every session. At the end the father said to me, ‘This has been so valuable for my son and me. I’m so glad we stayed,’” Tekin said about the father and son who stumbled upon the program. Each family was given a certificate upon completion of the six- week program..
The PRIME TIME Family Reading Time program is funded by a grant from the Florida Humanity Council. The program was the 2003 winner of the national Public Library Association’s Advancement of Literacy Award for making a significant contribution to adult literacy. It was also honored by the national Federation of State Humanities Councils as the outstanding program of the year in 2000.