A Prime Time session in Walla Walla. Photo: Kirk Hirota. Back To All Blog Posts

Prime Time Family Reading Expands in Response to Pandemic Learning Loss

Libraries, schools, and museums can receive $25,000 and more to hold the innovative literacy program in their communities.

In response to pandemic learning loss, Humanities Washington is excited to announce that Prime Time Family Reading—an innovative reading and discussion program—is expanding! For more libraries and other eligible organizations than ever, this means financial support to hold Prime Time Family Reading series in their communities. 

What some are calling “pandemic learning loss” threatens to follow many children, particularly those from low-income households, for the rest of their lives unless there is immediate intervention. Only 52% of students in the state now meet reading standards. Nationally, the trends have been described by educators as “alarming.” “We’re in trouble,” one researcher told the New York Times. Further, recent research shows that all students, on average, have fallen four to five months behind in their learning due to the pandemic, and the impact on Black, Indigenous, and other students of color is even more significant.  

Our expansion of the Prime Time Family Reading program is in direct response to this crisis. In a typical year, Humanities Washington held around 25 Prime Time series around the state. This expansion will quadruple that, with the goal of holding 100 series in the fall of 2022 and spring of 2023. 

Reading is important to every child’s development and future success. To build a foundation for reading that will last a lifetime, the Prime Time Family Reading program builds on a typical library story time by going deeper into thinking about and discussing big ideas in children’s literature, inspiring families to read, connect, discuss, and learn together. 

Prime Time serves families with elementary-school-aged children who may be struggling with reading. During six weekly sessions held in the evenings at public libraries, schools, museums, or online, between 15 and 25 families read stories and then discuss meaningful questions based on the books’ themes. The books are read by a skilled storyteller, and the discussion is led by a scholar who brings out the book’s deeper ideas, including topics like fairness, greed, courage, and compassion 

Prime Time models reading and discussion techniques that families can easily replicate at home, transforming homes into learning environments and giving children strong foundations for becoming lifelong learners. 

Prime Time is a proven success. In surveys of participating Prime Time Family Reading families, an incredible: 95% increased the amount of time they read together, 93% experienced a positive change in their attitudes toward reading, and 97% are now more likely to use library services. A ten-year study conducted by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities found that students who participate in Prime Time during their early elementary years performed at a higher level on grade-level tested content areas than non-participating peers. The same study also found that Prime Time students’ improved performance continued through high school. 

What Hosts Get: 

  • One or more of the following levels of financial support: * 
    • $25,000 to produce three in-person Prime Time series. 
    • $10,000 to produce two online Prime Time series. 
    • $8,300 to produce one in-person Prime Time series (for smaller organizations). 
  • Team member training. 
  • Access to curriculum materials. 
  • Access to experienced Humanities Washington staff. 

*Institutions may apply for a combination of these funding options.  

Beginning May 5, we will begin accepting applications to host Prime Time series in fall 2022 and spring 2023. Go to our Prime Time Family Reading page for more. 

For more information about Prime Time, please contact our Prime Time team at primetime@humanities.org or 206-682-1770 ext. 104. 

Prime Time Family Reading Time was developed by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Prime Time is made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The State of Washington via the Office of the Secretary of State, The Washington State Library, The Discuren Charitable Foundation, The Fordham Street Foundation, The Bamford Foundation, The BNSF Railway Foundation, The Norman Raab Foundation, D.V. and Ida McEachern Charitable Trust, The Stocker Foundation, The Helen Martha Schiff Foundation, The Allison Foundation, and other businesses, foundations, and individuals.