Celebrating Michigan Rich Cultural Heritage
Prime Time Family Reading Time

Prime Time Family Reading Time®

The Michigan Humanities Council works with public libraries and public schools across the state to host PRIME TIME Family Reading Time® programs. PRIME TIME® is a six-week program of reading, discussion and storytelling that targets families of non-active library users. The program features award-winning children’s literature to stimulate discussion about humanities themes and issues encountered in everyday life. Since 2008, more than 6,700 Michigan children and parents have participated in PRIME TIME®.

Each session is 90 minutes and includes the reading of up to three books by a storyteller, followed by facilitated discussion with a humanities scholar. Programs typically serve 20 to 25 families comprised of parents and children ages 6-10 with separate pre-reading activities planned for children 5 and under. Programs may be presented in English or as a bilingual Spanish/English program.

Prime Time Goals

  • Bond families around the act of reading and learning together;
  • Reinforce the role of family;
  • Encourage parents and children to read and discuss the humanities topics raised in the books;
  • Help parents and children become active library users; and
  • Highlight the importance of the library in local community and daily life.

PRIME TIME® is offered by the Michigan Humanities Council in cooperation with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Library Association and additional corporate and private sponsors.

Who May Host a Program?

Any public library system or public school library in the state of Michigan is eligible to apply to host a six-week PRIME TIME® series. A library system or public school library must commit to hosting a minimum of three PRIME TIME® series over a three-year period. The second and third series may occur in the same library or at another library within the same system.

Host Library Requirements

  • Identify a library coordinator who will attend a two-day training session in New Orleans along with a program scholar and storyteller (team responsibilities);
  • Order and catalog program books from an approved PRIME TIME® syllabus;
  • Promote PRIME TIME® according to Council guidelines and recruit 20-25 families;
  • Provide credit to the Council in all promotional materials;
  • Arrange for family transportation to and from the program as needed;
  • Provide adequate space for meals/snacks, the PRIME TIME reading and discussion, and preschool activities;
  • Provide a weekly five-minute “library commercial” to introduce families to additional library programs and
  • Organize staff and resources for weekly preschool activities (a manual of suggested readings/activities is
    provided at the training in New Orleans);
  • Issue library cards to all participating families;
  • Complete and submit required reports to the Council upon conclusion of the program
  • Administer and compile required participant surveys including entry, exit, and 90-day follow-up surveys;
  • Provide cash and/or in-kind support for program costs not covered by Council funds;
  • Present award certificates and gift books to families at program’s end.

Responsibilities of the Michigan Humanities Council

  • Provide staff support and technical assistance regarding PRIME TIME®
  • Act as intermediary between the library and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
  • Assist in promotion and securing printed promotional materials
  • Conduct site visits and program evaluation
  • Assist library in identifying an appropriate scholar and storyteller as needed
  • Write proposals for future funding
  • Provide 30 reusable book bags
  • Pay the required partnership fee to Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities ($500/site)

How your library can apply

Now accepting applications for the Spring 2015 cycle. These are due to MHC by Nov. 21.

Please submit a one-page letter of interest to the Michigan Humanities Council to be considered. For new PRIME TIME® sites, please consider the following in the letter of interest:

  • Name of the library/system;
  • Community demographics supporting need for PRIME TIME® in your area;
  • Examples of prior literacy and/or reading and discussion family programs hosted by your library;
  • Partnering agencies that could assist your library to recruit non-library-using families and volunteer support.
  • Submit a proposed budget

Cost and Grants to Host Prime Time

For all new PRIME TIME Family Reading Time® programs, MHC will provide $9,000 to selected libraries to cover the majority of program expenses. Any public library system in the state of Michigan is eligible to apply to host a six-week PRIME TIME® series. A library system must commit to hosting a minimum of three PRIME TIME® series over a two-year period.

  • Deadline: Dependent upon Scholar and Coordinator training. Please contact MHC for additional information if you are interested in hosting a program.

Mini grants of up to $2,000 are currently available to library systems that have previously implemented a Council-sponsored PRIME TIME® Family Reading Time® program and are in need of additional funds to support repeat programs.

  • Deadline: Rolling
  • Questions? Contact the Council at 517-372-7770.
  • Forms: Submit a letter of intent.

Prime Time Program Forms

Application Budget
Family Entry Survey
90 Day Follow-up Survey
Family Completion Survey
Final Report Checklist for Library Coordinators
Final Report for Preschool Coordinators
Final Report for Program Coordinators
Final Report for Scholars and Storytellers
Final Report for Community Organizer and Translator
Final Budget 

Financial Handbook



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Financial support was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fund of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation.

Michigan Humanities Council

119 Pere Marquette Drive, Suite 3B, Lansing, MI 48912

p: 517-372-7770 · f: 517-372-0027


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