Three Questions With: Nicki Brown from Read To Me International

H.T. Hayashi Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to support Read To Me International, an organization that promotes reading aloud to children within underserved communities in Hawaii. Read To Me International provides parent coaching, family engagement, and community outreach to help keiki succeed in and outside of the classroom. We caught up with Nicki Brown, program & community outreach director for Read To Me International, to find out more about RTM’s exciting events planned for this year, their programs and to learn where she finds the biggest inspiration for her work.

What upcoming programs or events are you most excited about?

Our alumni events are amazing! We have a huakai (field trip) set for the Queen Kapiolani Garden and the Honolulu Zoo for our alumni this Spring Break. It’s always great to see our past participants, hear where they are now, and see how our program impacts their ohana.

We also have our annual national-quality literacy conference, parent workshop, and family events happening this summer. The events are so much fun to attend!

But my most favorite program is our Read To Me 10 Program, a six-week parent-coaching program. I love meeting families in the community that want to learn more and find ways to better engage their keiki in reading aloud. My favorite part of the program is seeing the participants’ confidence build from week to week. A lightbulb goes off for them. Many of them share, Yes! These techniques work, and I see it firsthand in reading with my keiki.

What do you hope to achieve with your programs and organization this year?

I want to provide our read aloud techniques and curriculum to everyone in Hawaii. I was a participant myself when I was a new mother, and this program has changed the way I view reading and how I read with my child now. I want to serve everyone who wants to build bonds with their families and expand on our existing program to include more opportunities for all.

What or who inspires you?

My 3-year-old daughter inspires me every day. It’s like I get to be a child all over again through teaching her about the world. We do everything together, and she reminds me of everything I loved as a child. From books, cartoons, getting muddy and splashing in the rain. She has opened a whole new dimension of love that I could never get from anything else in this world.

Watching her play with her Play-Doh and playing dress-up has reminded me of the beauty of slowing down, taking in the beauty of this world, and establishing what I hope is a strong foundation for her to thrive.

I plan on living in Waianae for the rest of my life. Through my work at Read To Me International, I hope to help strengthen our community and provide my daughter with strong and compassionate leaders she will look up to as she grows up in this community.

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