EAST COUNTY — Kerry Valadez loves spending time with her children, so when she saw a flier for Prime Time Reading, a six-week program at the Braden River Branch Library, she signed up immediately with her youngest of three, 7-year-old Devin.
“It teaches them a lot,” Valadez said. “I want him to learn to read and keep reading.”
The program, funded through a grant from the Florida Humanities Foundation, runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Feb. 24. Families can continue to sign up through the Jan. 28 meeting.
Families share a meal that’s provided before sitting down for storytelling and book discussion. Then, they go home with a book parents can read out loud to their children at home and discuss during the week and at the next session.
“It teaches parents how to read to their children out loud; they are seeing how to read and interact with the kids,” said Chris Culp, the Braden River Branch librarian who brought the program to Manatee County.
“It’s a wonderful program.”
State College of Florida’s Alicia Long will serve as the program’s coordinator, while the library systems’ head of youth services, Chris O’Hara, will be the storyteller. The Braden River Branch Library’s Friends’ fundraising group provided supplies.
Although the library has reading programs for children up to 4 years old and literacy kits, it has fewer offerings for school-aged children. With Manatee County second-graders scoring poorly on standardized tests, it made sense to target first- through third-grade students, Culp said.
“We thought it was a great mix; we’ve got a push here to do more early literacy,” she said. “It encourages the whole family to come together to read the stories and then discuss them. It increases reading awareness and library awareness. If the families are behind it and encourage reading, the kids are going to be readers.”
Kerry Valadez agreed.
She said the Prime Time Reading program offers great mother-son quality time and a chance for Devin, a student at Freedom Elementary, to meet other children.
“The whole environment will be good for him,” she says. “It’s something positive.”
The Prime Time program already ran successfully at the Palmetto and South Manatee library branches, Culp said.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
PRIME TIME READING
When: 6 p.m. Tuesdays Jan. 20 through Feb. 24
Details: Dinner provided; book reading and discussion follows. Families take home a book to read and discuss at home and at the next session.
Registration: Through Jan. 27