What We Do
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
Share the love and joy of reading aloud.
- 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.
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.
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. For more information, email Nicki Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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 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 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.
Program and Site Assistant
Growing up, Lauren was able to discover her passion for music, singing, reading and writing. Raised in Waipahū and a graduate of Sacred Hearts Academy, Lauren had the importance of education instilled in her at a very young age. She is currently a senior at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa majoring in Human Development and Family Studies, where she is embarking on her journey to prepare herself for a career that will always encourage growth, embracing your passions, and being able to help those in her community. She has always had a positive and loving relationship with reading because it was something that her parents did with her everyday. Some of her favorite memories of her childhood include going to the library every chance she had and finding new books whenever the Scholastic Book Fair came around during the school year. She is excited to be interning with Read To Me International, where she hopes to connect with her community while finding some new favorite books to add to her library that she can read to her nieces, nephews and keiki in the future.
Board of Directors
Jo Anne Vieira
Secretary-General, The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Hawaiian Islands
VP/Director of Project Management, ANTHOLOGY
Ted I. Sakai
Ted I. Sakai and Associates
MDU Program Manager, Hawaiian Telecom
DoDEA Pacific PACOM Liaison, Department of Defense Education Activity
Client Manager, World Wide Technology
Vice President & Relationship Manager, Bank of Hawai‘i
Senior Project Manager, Kaula AE, LLC
`Imi Hale—Native Hawaiian Cancer Network
Susan Kam Yokoyama
Vice President & Public Relations Manager, First Hawaiian Bank
Founder, Read to Me International