By Polly Keary, Editor
Families who read together have kids who succeed more often.
So the Monroe Library has offered 25 families the opportunity to get together with each other once a week to eat, hear children’s books read aloud, then discuss them.
It’s part of an award-winning program begun in Louisiana for families with children ages 6-10 called Prime Time Family Reading Time, that became available to Monroe through a grant.
“I think 2012 was the year Washington State got the program, and the Lynnwood Library was one of the pilot libraries,” said children’s librarian Shannon Dye. “It was very successful, and so funding for more programs was sought. The funding actually is from Humanities Washington. They acquire the grants and help choose locations where the program will be. We were very fortunate to have Humanities Washington contact us.”
The program was offered to families from Frank Wagner Elementary School, as it is fairly close to the library, and as there are many children there from low income families and non-English speaking families.
The idea of the program, Dye said, is to reduce barriers to literacy.
“We work with a school that is close to the library so transportation should not be an issue,” she said. “We offer help paying for gas, and we provide dinner, so it’s a night when families and parents can relax and take a day off from worrying about dinner and come and have a healthy meal and enjoy listening to some good stories.”
A professional storyteller reads children’s stories aloud, and then a humanities scholar leads a discussion about the story.
“They are all picture books,” said Dye. “Some of the stories are more advanced than others, but they have universal themes, stories about people and experiences that people go through.”
The families then get to go home with the book that will be read the following week, so they have time to look at it together and talk about it.
“The program really aims to promote kids reading and bonding over stories with their parents, and we hope that, not only will families read together more often, but use the library more often,” said Dye.
The program runs six weeks.
Whether the program could return to Monroe if it goes well, Dye doesn’t know.
“It depends on funding,” she said. “There are other libraries that are going to do the program, too.”
Currently the program is in use in 39 states.