Categorized | Education

Hundreds attend inaugural South Kona ‘Read Aloud Program’


Fun, social, interactive — key elements that brought students, families, schools and community members together during the kick-off sessions of Read Aloud America’s Read Aloud Program (RAP) at Konawaena Elementary School and Hookena Elementary School last week.  

The programs drew more than 800 attendees and brought jam-packed cafeterias with enough laughter and excitement to reach miles. 

“I love the energy and enthusiasm that this program brings. It is a great way to involve families and encourage them to read together,” said Diane Spencer, SFA Coordinator at Konawaena Elementary School. 

RAP is a free school community event. Designed for families with children from toddlers to teens, the program takes the stress out of reading and makes it fun.  It is relaxed and enjoyable with no tests, quizzes, or reports.  

Schools, businesses, community organizations, and individuals join together to create a fun family event that supports children’s learning and benefits all who participate. 

“I particularly enjoy this program because you see that everyone – students, parents, volunteers – are having fun and want to be involved,” said Emily Mendez-Bryant, Read Aloud America’s RAP Big Island Site Coordinator. “RAP transcends all demographics – it’s for everyone.” 

RAP takes place on a school evening – and begins with a short introduction. Students are then divided into age-level groups to listen to volunteers read stories. 

Parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers stay in the cafeteria with the presenter and relax as they listen to stories, reading tips, and chapter books. 

Anyone from the schools’ communities is welcome to attend. It is highly encouraged for school staff such as principals, PCNCs, SFA coordinators, Language Arts/English teachers to attend a session to see if it may be right for their school.  

Book swaps for adults and children encourage attendees to exchange used books. RAP also provides free snacks, drinks, and dinner and the evening ends with door prizes and a party atmosphere. 

“My son and I had so much fun at RAP.  He cannot wait for the next one,” said Ericka Blake, mother of Konawaena Elementary School first-grader Noah.  “And, the attendance was amazing. It was great to see the kids excited and so many families involved.” 

RAP began in 1999 and has become the largest family literacy program in America. It has served more than 165,000 attendees and at least 80 programs across Hawaii. This fall brings RAP to South Kona for the first time.  

The program can be hosted at any public elementary or middle school for six sessions during one school semester.    

* Konawaena Elementary School’s six RAP dates fall Wednesdays – Aug. 26, Sept. 9, Sept. 23, Oct. 21, Nov. 4 and Nov. 18.  

* Hookena Elementary School’s sessions are scheduled on Thursdays – Aug. 27, Sept. 10, Sept. 24, Oct. 22, Nov. 5 and Nov. 19. 

Read Aloud America’s Founder/President Jed Gaines said, “The local community in South Kona has been wonderful. Rocky’s Pizza and Kona Stories have both been huge supporters of the program offering us gift certificates and fantastic discounts despite the economic downturn.  Volunteers from the school and community level have been tremendous including the Rotary Club of Kona Mauka, Konawaena High School’s Interact Club, the Aloha Kids 4H Club and more.” 

For more information, call 756-2348.

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