Relationships in the Village
By Melissa Elliott, Storyteller
PRIME TIME Family Reading Time
Elliott’s essay about her experience with the 2010 PRIME TIME series appeared in the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities “News and Views” September/October e-newsletter. Excerpts are reprinted here.
Our librarian and local PRIME TIME director, Colleen Leddy, believes it takes a village to create an award-winning library. (Our town’s library was honored with a State Librarian's Excellence Award sponsored by the Library of Michigan Foundation in 2009) As a member of our community, I am reminded by this that relationships are important for us to nurture whenever we can in order for us to be the best that we can. As a PRIME TIME storyteller, PRIME TIME offers me an opportunity to help foster communication among individuals, families, and our community: building, nurturing, and expanding relationships in the village.
Building the Village
PRIME TIME offers a way in this time of media overload to celebrate the oral tradition in a way that it has been shared for thousands of years: face to face in community with others.
During our first series at Stair Public Library in Morenci, Michigan, we used the concept of the village council fire to introduce our families to the idea that this PRIME TIME experience was a place and time set aside to join together in community and really talk with and listen to each other. This idea comes from the story “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears.” As we gathered together in a large circle, we encouraged children to sit very near their parents. We established norms for our group in a warm, authentic way so that parents knew they were respected and expected to join in the management and conversation of the group.
As a classroom teacher in our local elementary school, I am fortunate that many of the children in our PRIME TIME program know me from school. During our series, many students would stop me in the hall at school to ask me if I “would be there on Thursday.” I assured them that I would. I could tell that they were eager to spend quality time with everyone, dine together, hear the stories read aloud and engage in the discussions with their parents, and the other children and adults.
Nurturing the Village through Literature and Discussion
Over the course of our six week series, as the participants grew more comfortable with one another and us, our discussions of the PRIME TIME literature increased even more in depth, tone, and emotion. Parents shared their responsibilities, their dreams, and even their fears.
Children shared insights that proved they were wise beyond our expectations. We compared stories from the past with the way we live our lives today.
What a great privilege it has been for me as an educator and a storyteller to promote character qualities of responsibility, personal accountability, forgiveness, and redemption through interpersonal connections, quality literature, dynamic, thoughtful discussion and authentic experiences. PRIME TIME offers me, along with the other adults in our group, an enhanced opportunity to be a part of the Village involved in the raising of my community’s children. Thank you PRIME TIME for the opportunity of a LIFE TIME.