Humanities Washington Programs
Family Reading Programs
Our focus for the last several years has been on serving pre-K children and their families through our Motheread literacy curriculum. With the introduction of the Prime Time curriculum in 2012-13, Humanities Washington is excited to extend its family reading program reach and serve families with elementary school-aged children. Prime Time uses quality children’s literature and open-ended questioning techniques to build reading and comprehension skills among economically and educationally vulnerable children and parents. Its goals extend beyond basic literacy skills to focus on family bonding and communication.
Humanities Washington curates and manages a speakers bureau which features more than 30 dynamic presenters (including scholars, authors, storytellers, adn historians) on topics ranging from local history to geopolitical issues. Through lectures and audience discussions held at local host sites, speakers engage audience members in community dialogue and lifelong learning.
Through partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and the Washington State Historical Society, Humanities Washington brings high-quality exhibits to small- and medium-sized communities around the state. These exhibits build community by exploring our collective past and strengthen the capacity of host organizations through exhibit planning workshops and a variety of technical assistance resources.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
A significant success for Humanities Washington is Prime Time, a unique six-week, humanities-based program of reading, discussion and storytelling at public libraries and other venues that emphasizes the importance of families reading together to discuss significant cultural and ethical themes. For example, this fall at the Lynnwood Library 40 parents and children gathered together to listen to storyteller, Kami Wahl read Doctor De Soto. The Prime Time scholar then sparked conversation among the children and their parents by asking open-ended questions about fairness and responsibility. Wahl reflected afterward, “One of the most valuable parts of the Prime Time Family Reading program was having the families compare stories from different cultures and different genres. Yes, they found the connections between the stories, but they also found connections between the book and themselves, and connections with other people and the community. We had a lot of good discussions about fairness and equality. I think a lot of families don’t normally have those kind of discussions.” Families had an insightful conversation about big themes, one that they may not typically have had at home, sparked by reading together.
A major challenge facing us is also an amazing opportunity. Earlier this year we received a pledge of $50,000 from the Hale family for an endowment that will create the Washington Stories Fund. The Fund will provide one grant a year for stories of traditionally marginalized individuals and groups to be recorded and shared with the broader community, enhancing the general public’s awareness of their unique perspectives and cultures. The challenge is that we must raise $50,000 in donations and pledges to match the seed funding by the end of 2013.