In the village... (PrimeTime reading program) 2011.11.09

Written by David Green.

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. 

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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