Low literacy may be a global crisis, but it can be resolved locally. In fact, it can be resolved within the walls of your home.
Research indicates that when families spend time reading together it not only improves the child’s academic performance, it transforms the family.
Basically, a family that reads together succeeds together.
Jacksonville Public Library has implemented an evidenced-based program that stresses the importance of family reading time. For the past few weeks 10 families have been participating in the PRIME TIME Family Reading Time program at the University Park Branch location.
The objective of PRIME TIME is to intervene to reverse intergenerational illiteracy by transforming the family into a learning environment bonded around the act of reading together. This family literacy program targets at-risk families with 6-10 year old children.
Children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out.
Here’s an overview of how the program works:
- PRIME TIME programs specifically recruit at-risk families and eliminate barriers to participation by offering transportation, meals and child care for younger siblings.
- PRIME TIME programs are led by highly skilled and trained team members, including master storytellers and librarians.
- PRIME TIME programs consist of eight weekly sessions. The families are assigned two books to read every week, which have a specific theme. Some of the book themes include: fairness, greed, courage, cleverness and coping.
Aside from the obvious bonding experience this program creates for the participating family, there is an added benefit of bonding with the other families in the program.
Every session starts out with the families breaking bread together. All the parents and children sit down at the table to have dinner. Then, they gather in a circle to listen to the storyteller read the books they were assigned for the week. After the reading, they discuss the book, the theme, what they learned, and how the experience impacted their family.
An interesting dynamic of the program is how it reveals the gradual development of the parents and the children over the course of the 8 weeks. The parents are just as enthusiastic as the kids are about what they’re learning. Through the program they gain coping skills and parenting skills that help them relate better to their children. These skills benefit the families both academically and personally. Ultimately, the program improves the overall relationships within the family.
The PRIME TIME program at the University Park Branch concluded last week. Each participant received a Certificate of Achievement. There will be another offering of this program in the spring at a different branch.
If you would like more information about the PRIME TIME program please contact our Branch Manager at the Webb Wesconnett Branch at (904) 778-7305 ext. 220.