Human Services

Read-Aloud Delaware

Giving Kids a Reading Start

aka RAD

Wilmington, DE


Read Aloud Delaware is the only statewide organization focusing attention on the critical early years of child literacy. We promote reading aloud to preschool children in order to encourage a love of books and a desire to become a reader. We do this because there is a strong relationship between basic skill levels, teen parenthood and poverty. Our mission is to ensure that each preschool child in Delaware is regularly read to one-on-one.

Reading aloud to children helps develop language skills, vocabulary, general knowledge of the world, imagination, problem solving and the desire to learn to read.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Ms. Mary W. Hirschbiel

Main Address

100 West 10th St, Ste 309

Wilmington, DE 19801 USA


reading, children, youth, education, Delaware, read aloud, children's books, child development, Baby's First Book, volunteers, volunteering





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Other Youth Development N.E.C. (O99)

Remedial Reading, Reading Encouragement (B92)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

In 2017, an average of only 52% of third-graders read at grade level. Children of color and low-income had even lower rates of proficiency. As early as age 3 children from low-income and less-educated families have heard 30 million fewer words than children growing up in more affluent and educated homes. If we wait until children arrive in kindergarten to address these gaps in language and experience, it is nearly impossible for these under-prepared children to catch up. Reading aloud to preschool children one-on-one begins to fill in the missing resources and helps all children be better prepared to succeed in school.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Volunteer Reading Program

Parent Reading Program

Care Giver Reading

Where we workNew!

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

Read Aloud Delaware is working to improve school readiness for all children in Delaware with a primary focus on children from low to moderate income families. Research shows that learning begins long before a child enters kindergarten.
* As early as 18 months, low-income children begin to fall behind their more affluent peers in vocabulary acquisition. Vocabulary development is critical to school readiness.
* By age 2, children from low-income families are already behind their peers in listening, counting, and other skills essential to literacy.
* By age 5, a typical middle-class child recognizes 22 letters of the alphabet, compared to 9 letters for a child from a low-income family.
Read Aloud Delaware's goal is to reach as many of Delaware's children as possible to help develop the “school readiness" skills they may not otherwise achieve.

Read Aloud Delaware has three categories of programming to address school readiness:

*The Volunteer Reading Program places screened and trained volunteers in child care centers serving primarily low-income children. The volunteers read to one child at a time for 5-15 minutes per child every week. These interactions help children acquire new words, learn about the alphabet, learn how to count and to recognize colors and shapes by name as well as helping the child develop a longer attention span and a general knowledge of the world which will prepare him or her to start kindergarten ready to learn and wanting to learn to read.

*The Parent Empowerment Program delivers 3 sessions of critical information to parents to help them become their child's best advocate. The topics are: “Language & Literacy", “Reading Readiness", and “From Scribbling to Writing". Each session provides parents and care givers with ideas, information and materials to work with their child at home. At each session, parents are allowed to pick at least one book for each of their children.

*In-service education for early childhood educators is the third category of programming. We offer workshops which promote early literacy and are designed to reinvigorate and energize the people who work with our youngest children every day. Our goal is to ensure that each participant leaves with new ideas and strategies to encourage early literacy that can be implemented in their classrooms the following week and all the weeks to come.

Read Aloud Delaware is very skilled at matching willing volunteers with appropriate volunteer placements, such as reading one-on-one at various sites, presenting Mother Goose nursery rhymes, taking care of our book collections, or helping parents understand the importance of talking to and reading to their children.

We have a strong and diverse Board of Directors representing all parts of the state and many different kinds of work experience. In addition, we have the four standing committees: Finance, Development, Program and Marketing all have representatives from around the state. Each of the three Delaware Counties also has a committee to implement our programs and see that we continue to make progress toward our strategic goals.

Right now, every Volunteer Reader can see that they are having an impact when they notice that the children who could only focus for 3-4 minutes in October are begging for another story after 10-12 minutes by the end of May.

Volunteer Readers also report that children use many different strategies to make sure that they get a turn to be read to.

In addition, we conduct assessments every other year on a small sample of the children we serve. These assessments look at book handling skills, print and picture recognition, and comprehension. These assessments have shown that children who are read to consistently for a six month period between October and May, which we call the reading season, show dramatic gains in their ability to point to the front of the book, to know where the volunteer should begin to read, and to describe what the story is about in a full sentence versus a one word answer that they might give in October.

We have struggled for 30 years to find the best way to reach parents that need to hear our message. We have experimented with lengthy parent schools, with e-mail messaging, with brochures and posters, with parent newsletters, and now with the Parent Empowerment Program. To date, this program seems to have the most effect when supplemented by appearances at community events.

We have not created an organization which can sustain its operations without substantial support from the State of Delaware. This remains a challenge to our long-term viability. The newest strategic plan just approved in December 2016 includes at least two strategies to address this issue. We will introduce a modest fee-for-service model in July 2018 and we will increase our efforts to communicate with major donors to garner their long-term support.

External Reviews


Read-Aloud Delaware

Fiscal year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?