What We Do

Frank Haas

Read To Me International promotes reading aloud to children through:

  • Parent coaching programs at Hawai‘i’s schools, community sites, and correctional facilities
  • Presentations and workshops for parents, educators and other interested groups
  • Read alouds at schools and community gatherings
  • National-quality annual conferences
  • Support for parents of young children living in transitional and affordable housing

Our Mission

Share the love and joy of reading aloud.

Goals

  • Ensure that every child is read to every day for at least 10 minutes.
  • Model good read aloud techniques.
  • Promote reading aloud to a broader audience of stakeholders.

History

Read To Me International Foundation dba Read To Me International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in March 1996 as a result of a partnership created by the Governor’s Council for Literacy and Lifelong Learning and the Rotary Club of Honolulu Sunrise. The Governor’s Council comprised leading members from the business, labor, education, faith-based and community sectors. From 1992-1994 the Council and Rotary embarked on a successful multi-media campaign called “Read To Me,” which resulted in a statewide campaign underscoring the importance of reading aloud. Its message was simple: “Every child in Hawaii will be read to every day for ten minutes.”

As a result of the media efforts, inspired in large part by the teachings of Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, a round table was formed which facilitated and promoted reading activities statewide, including the production of a video establishing the why’s and how-to’s of reading aloud; the establishment of read-aloud programs in schools and businesses; presentations in schools, churches, and local communities; refurbishment of libraries; and book donations to schools, organizations, and libraries. Through the support of various partners, with Hawaii Pizza Hut serving as a major sponsor, a number of activities and projects were undertaken.

The program proved to be successful, the multi-media campaign having been adopted in over a dozen states, plus Canada and Malaysia. Since Read To Me International’s inception, the organization has evolved to focus on equipping and coaching parents to be their children’s first teachers in life through reading aloud together. The organization serves an average of 7,500 people each year through its parent-coaching programs, annual national-quality conference, workshops, and community events.

Programs

Read To Me International serves Hawaii’s communities with the greatest needs. Since 2014, Read To Me International has launched the following parent-coaching programs and events to further engage families to read aloud together. The simple act of reading aloud together daily supports children’s academic, social, and emotional growth and helps families to bond through read-aloud interactions.

Haku Mo‘olelo (To “Compose Stories”): A parent-coaching program designed for residents of the Women’s Community Correctional Center (WCCC). Participants write, illustrate, and record their own children’s storybooks, which are sent home to their children along with the audio recording.

Read, Revive, Restore: A parent-coaching program for residents of State community correctional facilities to read and audio-record age-appropriate books for their children. Incarcerated parents record reading aloud a child’s storybook and send both the book and audio recording to their children.

Readers Rallies: A program for formerly homeless families living at Kahauiki Village, an affordable plantation-style community. All residents are invited to quarterly readers rallies, which combine read aloud activities with musical entertainment.

RTM10 (“Read To Me 10 Minutes A Day”): A weekly comprehensive parent-coaching program offered to families in Kalihi, Nānākuli, Wahiawā, and Wai‘anae. Coaches provide parents with reading strategies and resources to practice in class, then apply it with their children at home and school. REGISTRATION IS CURRENTLY OPEN – SEE FLYER AND REGISTRATION FORM.

RTM10 Alumni Programs: RTM10 program participants and their families engage in programming addressing their children’s academic, social, and emotional needs and social opportunities for children to play and learn together.

  • Read To Me International Parent Coaching Program, RTM10

Staff

Lynne Waihee
President

Lynne Waihee

As a youngster, Lynne Waihee found magic in her otherwise mundane life through the world of princesses and princes, fairy tales and fables. In real life, Read To Me International President Lynne Waihee has led a charmed life as a former First Lady of Hawai‘i, during which time she served as the Honorary Chair for the Governor’s Council for Literacy. A former high school English teacher, literacy was a perfect fit for her role as First Lady, and Waihee has now championed childhood literacy’s cause for over 23 years. She recalls with fondness reading in bed to her own children, John IV and Jennifer, and anxiously awaits the day she has grandchildren to whom she can read. Meanwhile, she finds great joy in reading aloud to anyone’s children, and to adults as well . . . including husband John.

Kara Kusunoki
Executive Director

Kara Kusunoki

Kara Kusunoki began her career as a public school teacher. Teaching was an invaluable experience that inspires her to support youth and their caregivers. Kusunoki has worked in the education and healthcare industries with a focus on nonprofit administration. Though she studied finance and politics in college, her passion is reading; she is grateful to have supportive family members and teachers who contributed to her library of books growing up. Kusunoki believes in Read To Me International’s mission because she has experienced how reading aloud stimulates children’s emotional and academic development, and can provide readers different ways to see the world.

Program and Community Outreach Director

Nicki Brown

Nicki Brown has a long standing career in the non-profit sector servicing the Waiʻanae community in various capacities. Community programs that focused on early childhood education held great significance on her journey as a new mother. It led her to experience the power of Read To Me International’s RTM10 program firsthand as a participant. Seeing the excitement on her child’s face after implementing the different techniques taught by Read To Me International was transformative for their relationship with books and with one another. Reading has always been a passion of Brown’s growing up with Laotian as her first language. It helped her to learn and love the English language. In her current role with Read To Me International, her hopes are to spread that same love for literacy to everyone in the state of Hawaiʻi by reading aloud. She believes that reading is great, but getting people to engage in reading aloud together is when the love strengthens.

Karla Tactay Teixeira
Program and Site Assistant

Karla Tactay Teixeira

Karla Tactay Teixeira is a past Read To Me program participant and is now excited to be a part of the Read To Me family working with parents to encourage their keiki’s love for reading. Karla is a mother and wife raising her family in Wai‘anae, and has served in both the Hawai‘i and Florida Air National Guard. Her love for reading grew as she was read to as a child, and as a mother she continues these traditions with her own children.

Board of Directors

Board Officers

  • President

    Lynne Waihee

    Read to Me International

  • Board Chair

    Jo Anne Vieira

    Community Volunteer

  • Vice Chair

    Mollie Sperry

    Secretary-General, The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Hawaiian Islands

  • Secretary

    Wenona Harris

    VP/Director of Project Management, ANTHOLOGY

  • Treasurer

    Ted I. Sakai

    Ted I. Sakai and Associates

Other Members

  • Jaydence Goya

    MDU Program Manager, Hawaiian Telecom

  • Jean Grice

    DoDEA Pacific PACOM Liaison, Department of Defense Education Activity

  • Marissa Machida

    Vice President & Relationship Manager, Bank of Hawai‘i

  • E. Lynne Kimoto Madden

    Executive Vice President, The Madden Corporation

  • June Nakamura

    Senior Project Manager, Kaula AE, LLC

  • Hale Takazawa

    Architect

  • JoAnn Tsark

    `Imi Hale—Native Hawaiian Cancer Network

  • Susan Kam Yokoyama

    Vice President & Public Relations Manager, First Hawaiian Bank