July 31, 2015
As 10-year-old Isaiah listened to the story of “The Rough-Face Girl” by Rafe Martin, you could almost see the wheels turning in his mind. He listened intently to the tale of the young girl whose face had been scarred by fire but eventually married the Invisible Being because she was the only one who really saw him.
“I think the book is telling us don’t judge people by their appearance. It’s all about what’s in here,” he said, tapping his heart. “The rough-face girl saw the beauty in things that other people didn’t.”
“The Rough-Face Girl” was just one of 18 books that Isaiah and other participants of the Prime Time Family Reading Time program enjoyed this summer at the YWCA Central Alabama’s Family Resource Center in Woodlawn. Prime Time allows families who might not have access to books to bond around the act of reading and discussing stories together.
Throughout the six-week program, which was funded by the Alabama Humanities Foundation, each family took home a bag of three children’s books to enjoy together before discussing them with the group the next week. After each session, the families ate together, enjoying meals prepared by community volunteers. Students won door prizes, including books, each week.
“It’s a fun and easy thing to do to hang out with your kids and read books, and this gives us a chance to model that,” said Lance Simpson, who works at the Central Branch of the Birmingham Public Library and helped facilitate the discussions. “It’s been a great way to bring the whole community together and have some fun.”
Sharon Chamblin, who participated in the program with her son, 10-year-old Dante Huntley, said they thoroughly enjoyed the experience. “We looked forward to it every week,” she said. “He makes the A/B Honor Roll every year, and we just try to keep him reading in the summer. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Families also had the opportunity to sign up for library cards and learn more about the resources available at the different branches. “This gives us a chance to interact with the families and get to know them,” Simpson said. “My hope is that we become faces people recognize, which will make coming to the library fun and not so scary.”
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