Growing Up in Prime Time: A Difference That Lasts a Lifetime

Three of HN’s current Prime Time team members were kids who had participated with their families. We asked them to tell us why they believe this family reading program is important.

Elizabeth Gajardo first went to Prime Time in Lincoln when she was seven years old.

“I went with my dad (Joel) who has been a discussion leader for at least 10 years,” she said. “I remember how excited I always used to be to go as a kid!”

Her parents had read to their children often, but Elizabeth said that this program gave them something more.

“As a kid, Prime Time helped me enjoy reading and appreciate the message that every book has,” she explained. “Prime Time has helped us appreciate the ability to read as a family in English and Spanish.”

Watching the interaction between her father and families as they discussed each book was an inspiration. By the time she was a middle-schooler, Elizabeth was helping with the younger kids. Eventually, she was asked to be the Prime Time student intern.

“I was elated,” Elizabeth related. “I couldn’t wait to follow in my father’s footsteps.”

She was student intern in Lincoln for the Spring 2015 session. Last summer, she was the preschool facilitator in Omaha, and then she returned to Lincoln as an intern this fall.

“Prime Time instills the desire to teach children how to read,” Elizabeth said. “It also helps them understand the importance of learning a new language while maintaining their native language at home.”

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Yesenia Lopez

Yesenia Lopez was first introduced to Prime Time in Grand Island when she was eight. She started helping her mom with the preschool kids.

“What I remember the most was how much fun the preschool kids were having reading books and doing crafts, as well as how the families would interact in a positive manner with their storyteller and discussion leader,” Yesenia recalled.

For Yesenia, there was no question she would work with Prime Time families as an adult.

“When I was offered a position in Lincoln, I was ex-cited to continue with the program separate from my mother and Grand Island!”

Today, Yesenia is the story-teller for the bilingual program in Lincoln, her first official role as a team member.

“Prime Time is a family reading program that not only allows you to grow the connection between you and your child but it allows you to make new friends with people in your community,” she said. “There is also a lot of insightful discussion that occurs during the program that benefits everyone in the long run!”

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Gema Ramirez & Elizabeth Garjardo

Gema Ramirez was 13 years old when her family was invited to attend Prime Time at the South Omaha Library.

“My family was well known in the library,” she recalled. “We gave it a try and loved it.”

For Gema, the impact of Prime Time on her whole family was very significant.

“Coming to this country was difficult at first for my whole family. My dad worked many hours and never really had time to spend with us,” she revealed. “Prime Time was the only time when my family was together.”

She continued, “It taught me that practicing and not losing the Spanish language was the best thing I could do.”

When Gema was in high school, she became the student intern. She left for two years to start her elementary  education degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“I transferred to UNO my junior year of college and was asked to be the preschool coordinator for Prime Time,” she said. “I then got offered a position at the library to work with youth and bilingual families in the community.”

Gema is now the program coordinator at the South Omaha Library.

“Since Prime Time made a big impact on me and my  family, I want the same for other families,” Gema said. “This is why I choose to still be involved with Prime Time. Not only does Prime Time help families get involved with reading, but it also brings families together.”


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