Experts who can develop materials—particularly children’s books—for Hawaiian language immersion classrooms are in short supply, as is funding to produce the curricula.
So University of Hawaʻi at Mānoa Associate professor Sam L. Noʻeau Warner decided to develop books focusing on Hawaiian language and literacy.
Warner, on faculty at the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language, published 31 Hawaiian language books for Hawaiian immersion classrooms. He wrote 30 himself (two co-authored with colleagues) and Kawaihuelani Center’s Assistant Professor Laiana Wong contributed another.
The books are aimed at helping children in Hawaiian immersion programs and other beginning learners and above to master specific grammatical structures, vocabulary and/or the ways of speaking of kupuna, which have been problematic for the past 21 years of the program.
“The struggle to raise the standard of teaching and learning in Hawaiian language immersion classrooms has posed a challenge since the program’s inception 21 years ago,” says Warner. “This project seeks to increase literacy development in the entire Hawaiian community so that everyone can be literally on the same page.”
The books have a modern-day focus to validate children’s daily lives. Illustrations are by local, mostly native Hawaiian artists, many previously unpublished.
Boxed sets of the hard-covered, colorfully illustrated books were delivered to about 100 classrooms across the state. Two dozen Hawaiian Immersion Schools, including Niʻihau School and two Hawaiian medium schools for Niʻihau children residing on Kauaʻi, were among the recipients.
The books were produced with the help of a federal Department of Education I Mua Nā Ka ʻUlu grant awarded under the Native Hawaiian Education Act. While the grant focuses on literacy for children in grades K-3, books also were provided to classrooms through grade 12 to foster Hawaiian language learning in the entire immersion community.
For a complete listing of book titles, contact Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org.