Reading is Fundamental, Honolulu, Inc.
Reading is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), based in Washington, D. C., is the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit children’s literacy organization. Former teacher Margaret McNamara founded it in 1966 when she discovered that children she was tutoring had never owned any books. She decided to bring some used books for them. When she told the children they could choose a book of their own, their delight and astonishment led her to conclude that they, and other children, had never known the excitement of owning a brand new book. She knew then it was time to find a way to provide new books to other students like hers.
To learn more about the national book distribution program, go to www.rif.org.
In 1978, Reading is Fundamental, Honolulu, Inc. (RIF-Honolulu), a Hawaii non-profit corporation, was founded and began by servicing a total of 566 students in four schools. RIF-Honolulu currently serves sixteen public and charter elementary schools on Oahu involving over 5,000 children. More than 80 per cent of the students in our program qualify for free or reduced price lunch under federal guidelines. During the thirty-five years of its existence, RIF-Honolulu has distributed half a million books to students in kindergarten through grade three.
RIF-Honolulu is affiliated with the national RIF organization as part of its National Registry. The national organization provides access to book suppliers who offer discounts and special services to affiliate programs. This relationship has gained importance as federal funding for local RIF organizations has been eliminated and the need to provide books continues to grow.
Funding for RIF-Honolulu comes from private foundations, community groups, businesses, and individuals. Volunteers who receive no remuneration for their time and effort staff the organization.
Since the founding of RIF-Honolulu, the focus has been the students in kindergarten through third grade. The goal was then, and continues to be, to spark an interest in reading in the early years of their education. Research shows that third-graders’ ability to read is a clear link to future academic and career success. Third-graders who can read at grade level are more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college.
Volunteers visit classrooms three times a year. They do book talks, read stories, and conduct activities to encourage reading. Each child then chooses a book to keep from a selection of brand new books. As noted by founder Margaret McNamara in 1966 and as evidenced by the students RIF-Honolulu serves today, freedom of choice and pride of ownership are instrumental in inspiring the children to read. RIF-Honolulu believes that its emphasis on reading for fun is an important complement to the schools’ instructional programs.