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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 170 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 354,000 attendees. We know of no other family literacy program in America that has attracted such numbers.

Original RAP Team, January 26, 1999

From left back row: Jim Harstad, Larry Howard, Marion Coste, Liz Bailey and Jed Gaines.
In front: Loui Ling Howard, Dori Kim

Founder, Jed Gaines reads aloud a Roald Dahl book to 400+ students, grades 3-6 at
Honowai Elementary School, Oahu, April 16, 2014.

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