Snuggling on mom's or dad's lap for a favorite bed time story can build treasured memories of childhood. But it also can build literacy skills that can spell success for youngsters.
Now the Kenai Community Library is launching a new program to help families unlock the potential of children's literature. The library is the first in Alaska to offer Prime Time Family Reading Time, a free family program for parents and children.
"It is learning new ways to help your children do better in school," explained librarian Corey Hall, who is part of the project team.
Prime Time is more than a story hour. In a fun atmosphere, it shows families how to animate story time and use it to teach children values. It provides an opportunity for families to access resources they might not be able to afford on their own or even be aware of, Hall said.
Storyteller Carol Ford and musician and educator Mike Morgan are working with Hall.
Families will borrow a total of 15 selected titles to read before sessions. At the weekly get-togethers, Ford will present the picture books, and Morgan will lead discussions of them, Hall said.
Each of the six weeks will have a theme, such as fairness or courage.
The program is targeted for children ages 6 to 10, but there is a separate program available at the same time for younger brothers and sisters, ages 3 to 5. That is coordinated by Holly Wiley, an AmeriCorps volunteer working through The Learning Center at Kenai Peninsula College.
The other member of the Prime Time team is Steve Lindbeck, a representative of the Alaska Humanities Forum, which is considering the program for use in other parts of Alaska.
"We are the only one in Alaska," Hall said. "This is supposed to be a pilot program for the state of Alaska."
Head Librarian Ewa Jankowska found out about Prime Time, which is sponsored by the American Library Association, through the Internet. The library applied for the grant program and learned in December that it had been chosen as one of 14 libraries nationwide accepted, Hall said.
The library was particularly interested in the program because of its family focus, she said.
Prime Time began in 1991 as a program at the Baton Rouge Public Library. It was so popular that, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, it spread to other areas of Louisiana and the south. Now it is expanding nationally as a partnership of the NEH and the ALA.
In February, Hall, Ford, Morgan and Lindbeck went to New Orleans for training in how to recruit families and what their roles would be.
They chose to run the program in the fall to provide a fresh start with the new school year, Hall said.
The first session is 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday at the library. Refreshments and door prizes will be available. Space is limited, and families are requested to register in advance.
For more information or to register, call Hall at 283-4378.
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