Library looking for Prime Time players this fall

By Jamie Anfenson-Comeau

LSU at Eunice’s LeDoux Library is doing its part this year to help promote literacy with a pilot of the PRIME TIME family reading program.

The PRIME TIME reading program is a family literacy program developed by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities aimed at encouraging and improving families’ reading skills.

LSUE Library Director Gerald Patout stressed the family portion of the program. “This is not a program where the kids get dropped off and someone reads to them,” Patout said, adding that the goal is to encourage reading in the homes of families who may have little resources or reading skills.

The program is geared towards children six years or older, but will have resources on hand for families of younger children.

The LeDoux Library will also have materials on hand for families with younger children who wish to sign up for the Eunice Imagination Library free book program for children under five.

The program will consist not only of reading, but will involve discussion of reading materials, to help both parents and children improve critical thinking skills, putting what they’ve read into the context of daily life.

“The unique fact about PRIME TIME is that it’s not just about reading the books to them, it’s about asking good questions; it’s about feelings, and what was good about the story. It’s about asking questions,” Patout said, adding “It goes beyond the traditional reading of books to really get into that critical appraisal and analysis.”

Donated books and other reading materials will be provided to families to take home and read in between sessions to help improve their skills.

Patout said that they have room for 25 to 30 families who are looking to learn how to improve their reading skills, and to make reading a fun family activity.

The program will run at LSUE every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the LeDoux Library for eight weeks beginning Sept. 3.

Patout will be assisted by the other members of “Team LSUE”, which includes English and Early Childhood Education professors Mary Leslie, Holly Bell and Angela Buchanan Greaud, as well as community spokesperson Denise Foret.

“Team LSUE” traveled to Baton Rouge last weekend for an informational session, learning more about the program and meeting with other PRIME TIME coordinators from across the country.

While an academic library may seem an unusual place for a family reading program, Patout said that PRIME TIME fits in perfectly with LeDoux’s mission in the community.

“We feel like we’re pretty well-positioned to offer this program. We have an early childhood education program, and teachers who teach in the program,” Patout said.

Patout noted that, as a local community college, LSUE’s future success is tied to the literacy and critical reading skills of the people in its community.

“We have to be leaders in promoting and improving the literacy of the communities in the surrounding areas,” Patout said.

LSUE also works to promote literacy through the “Book Buddies” program begun by LSUE Chancellor William “Bill” Nunez, pairing LSUE faculty, students, staff and community members with elementary school children for one-on-one reading sessions.

Patout is also inviting other local schools and libraries to observe LSUE’s pilot program; Patout said he hopes that the LSUE PRIME TIME program can serve as a model for other libraries and other communities.

With illiteracy levels in St. Landry Parish at 40 percent, Patout said he hopes that the LSUE program “will raise the discussion of literacy in our communities to the next level.”

PRIME TIME began in 1991 as a pilot program in East Baton Rouge Parish; since that time it has spread to 61 Louisiana parishes, as well as programs in 36 states and the Virgin Islands, with approximately 29,500 participants.

For more information, or to register, contact Patout at 550-1380.

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