Books Encourage Ohana Fun

Literacy program teaches more than reading

Toddlers Nadia Nunuha, Lilia Tangonan, Justice Purdy-Avelino, Ashton Greenleaf and Lono Purdy were captivated by volunteer reader, Kathy Bennett’s storytelling.  

By Jennifer Smith

It was standing-room only in the Kualapuu Elementary School cafeteria last week Wednesday, as the Read Aloud Program (RAP) kicked off a six-week series. Read Aloud America began RAP to encourage families to turn off the TV and spend more time together.

Kualapuu and Maunaloa elementary schools were the first of six schools RAP will be at this semester.

“Our main goal is families being involved with their children and their learning; for families to do things together,” RAP representative Carri Luera said. 

Principal Lydia Trinidad was ecstatic to see nearly 300 family members in the school’s cafeteria.

“All I can say like many of you are thinking is ‘wow,’” Trinidad said. “I think this is the biggest crowd in Kualapuu School history.”

The RAP evening began with lively music as families ate snacks and talked story. After a 20 minute introduction, the children were split into age groups and spent the next 40 minutes captivated by stories read by animated volunteers.

Meanwhile, parents spent their time with seasoned presenter and RAP founder Jed Gaines. He discussed the importance of interacting with children and how books can provide a way to learn and bond.

In tune with the Hawaiian history and culture, parent Hanohano Naehu brought up the strong oral tradition that exists in many Molokai homes. In an evening focused on books, he asked the presenter if telling stories could be just as effective as reading them.

“Yes. Kids love hearing stories,” Gaines said. Whether parents share family history or make-up tales, he said the importance is more about family than reading.  

A Molokai Pizza Café dinner, lots of prizes and a brief closing followed the presentation.

“This is too much fun … I’m glad they brought it up here,” parent Tammie Kalua said. She said she wants to encourage her brother and other family members who have children to attend future events.

Gaines referred to the program as a “community affair” and invited anyone from the Kualapuu and Maunaloa community to attend future RAP sessions.

Gaines also recognized all of the hard work of RAP Island Coordinator and Molokai High School librarian Diane Mokuau in helping to make the night a success.

Maunaloa Elementary School will host five more 5:45-7:45 p.m. RAP sessions; Feb. 6 and 20, March 5, April 23 and May 7. For more information contact the school liaison Kimberly Kaii at 552-2000.

Maunaloa Elementary School will also host five more sessions; Feb. 5 and 19, March 4, April 22 and May 6. For more information contact the school liaison Leila Elia at 567-6900. Families can also contact the Kualapuu Family Facilitator, Tarrah Horner, for more information on how to get involved. Horner can be reached at 567-6900 ext. 231, or email

A special thank you for supporting RAP is extended to the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services, Pepsi and Frito Lay, and local sponsors Molokai Community Federal Credit Union, Monsanto Hawaii, Molokai Drug, Hayaku Gas & Go, Makoa trucking and the Molokai Community Service Council.


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