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Louisiana families read together in 'prime time'

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

The national family literacy program Prime Time is underway in schools across Louisiana. The program works to refine family reading habits and attitudes about books. The weekly 90-minute session held in the evening brings together elementary school children and their parents to listen to and discuss classic literature. Miranda Restovic, deputy director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, said Prime Time brings parents into the fold of learning, and makes the school a more welcoming place for them.

“It's not in the school’s DNA right now to deliver programs that are ongoing that continue to engage families. That’s a much harder thing to try to accomplish," Restovic said. "These schools and teachers who implemented these programs should really be commended because delivering a program like this is hard work.”

The rural community of Pleasant Hill is one of several schools participating in Sabine Parish. Melanie Morgan, Pleasant Hill's literacy integration specialist for all grade levels, thinks she’ll be able to retain families because on Monday night she saw kids and parents bond over the West African folk tale “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears.”

“It’s that culture of you can do something besides go to work in the oil fields or the forest. It’s that academic culture we need to grow, and I think Prime Time can help us do that," Morgan said.

Restovic said the program is being delivered  in five Caddo Parish schools. In all, Prime Time is expected to have more than 1,300 participants in 15 parishes as it rolls out this fall and picks up again in the spring.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.