How Did Read Aloud America Start?
Read Aloud America is a Hawaii nonprofit organization founded in 1995 by
Jed Gaines. Jed has spent more than twenty years giving read-aloud workshops
at schools, libraries, bookstores, and community events.
The organization's premise is based on the conclusion of the Commission
on Reading's 1985 report, Becoming a Nation of Readers, which states:
"The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for
eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."
Jed originally organized a "power lunch" program at Kahamanu Elementary
School which paired at-risk students with volunteer readers. This one-to-one
program worked directly in school settings. Although it was well received,
the program simply could not reach enough students to make a significant
impact, and it did not directly involve parents.
In 1997, Jed joined with Jim Harstad, English Department Chair at the
University of Hawaii Laboratory School, and Marion Coste, children's book
author and former instructor at the University of Hawaii, to create RAP, The
Read Aloud Program.
In January 1999, Read Aloud America implemented a RAP pilot program at
Barbers Point Elementary School. Since then, we have completed 148
additional programs. The average attendance for these programs has grown to
over 350 participants per session. When we totaled up our attendance figures, we were gratified to find that we have served
over 348,000 attendees. We know of no other family literacy program in
America that has attracted such numbers.