LEH PRIME TIME family literacy program reaches new high

Staff reports

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ nationally acclaimed PRIME TIME FAMILY READING TIME program for at-risk children celebrates its 20th anniversary with the completion of over 1,000 programs throughout the nation.

                Since PRIME TIME’s inception in 1991, it has conducted 536 programs in Louisiana, reaching over 20,000 participants, and 547 programs nationally, also reaching nearly 20,000 participants, for a total of 1,083 programs and approximately 40,000 students. In addition, the LEH, through private, state and federal grants, has invested more than $7 million, or approximately $175 per participant, in the development, implementation and evaluation of this unique program.

                “The program’s results are astounding,” said PRIME TIME Director Miranda Restovic. “Originally, PRIME TIME was created to reach low-literacy families, an underserved, or in many cases a never served audience by humanities organizations. It has accomplished something even greater, however. It has changed the lives and life trajectories of at-risk children.”

                In 2010, the LEH released Stemming the Tide of Intergenerational Illiteracy: A Ten-Year Impact Study of PRIME TIME FAMILY READING TIME, a longitudinal analysis of the program’s impact on student achievement. This 10-year study offers statistical evidence that this preemptive approach to addressing the problem of intergenerational illiteracy can significantly improve student learning. Not only did PRIME TIME students outperform in the expected areas of language arts skills and reading, but across the board including mathematics, physical science, life science, algebra, number and number relations, geometry, etc.  “In other words,” said Restovic, “PRIME TIME not only impacts reading, it affects all dimensions of learning, or as we have maintained: It creates the precondition for all future learning.”

                PRIME TIME purpose is to promote the humanities among vulnerable families with 6- to 10-year-old children while helping them learn to enjoy reading and learning together. Using humanities rich children’s literature in conjunction with recognizable humanities themes, PRIME TIME makes the connection between literature and the real-world relevant for participating families. The family literacy model also includes pre-literacy programming for 3 to 5 year-olds, transportation and meals. PRIME TIME’s primary goals are to promote the humanities among at-risk populations; enable parents/guardians and children to bond around the act of reading and learning together; convert children and parents/guardians into active readers, library users and life-long learners; create the preconditions for future learning, thus ending the cycle of intergenerational illiteracy.

                “Louisiana and the nation continue to struggle with illiteracy, poverty, crime and numerous other social ills that limit its growth and prosperity,” said Restovic. “PRIME TIME will continue to be part of the solution.”