Categorized | Education, Featured

Kealakehe reading program draws 600

Students listen to a story during Wedesday evening's Read Aloud Program at Kealakehe Elementary School. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Story and photos by Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

In its second of six sessions, the Read Aloud Program drew more than 600 people Wednesday, Feb. 18 to Kealakehe Elementary School, including Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona.

Aoina, who has been involved in the program for five years, talked about the importance of reading to children – in the classroom and at home – on a regular basis to increase their prospects for success in school and life.

“Absolutely, reading is the core and basis of education,” he said. “If you want to succeed in life, you have to be able to read and understand what you read.”

Some stories are just too exciting. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Although he admits he was not a big reader as a boy, Aiona said he now spends up to 85 percent of his working day reading.

“It’s a big part of what I do,” he said. “Reading never leaves you. The older I get, the more I enjoy reading.”

“The Big Hungry Bear” by husband and wife authors Don and Audrey Wood was a particular favorite for the Aiona family when the children were young and a current favorite for the lieutenant governor is “Ralph the Farting Dog” by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray.

Aiona said while he loves the book, he does adjust one word in the title when reading to family audiences.

The program has two big benefits, he said. It boosts literacy and it promotes quality family time. Because families are not diving into television or computer screens, they are teaching younger generations how to communicate more effectively.

A former judge, Aiona said he has learned “it is much easier to build strong children than to fix broken adults.”

A volunteer reader opens up a world of words for Kealakehe Elementary School students. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

RAP nights in West Hawaii:

* Kahakai Elementary School: March 2, March 30, April 20, April 27
* Kealakehe Elementary School: March 3, March 31, April 4, April 28

The events begin at 5:45 p.m. with sign-in and snacks. The evening wraps up at 7:45 p.m. with prizes and dinner.

Founded in Hawaii in 1995 by Jed Gaines, Read Aloud America is a non-profit 501(C)3 organization that promotes literacy, encourages a love of reading in adults and children, and increases children’s prospects for success in school and life.

RAP is a family program that brings parents and children together for six sessions during one school semester and motivates them to read. The program is conducted at host schools that provide meeting space, volunteers, and logistical support.

The host schools pay a small fee, and the majority of RAP expenses are funded The Department of Human Services with smaller grants and contributions from local businesses and individual supporters.

— Find out more:

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona talks about the importance of encouraging youngsters to read. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona listens to the introductions Wednesday evening at Kealakehe Elementary School. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

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