Posted tagged ‘Books’

Build a better world with 2017 summer reading programs

May 30, 2017

School may be out, but books are always in. Hawaii residents are lucky to participate in two long-time summer reading programs.

For readers of all ages, the Hawaii Public Libraries is sponsoring a summer reading program from June 4 to July 15, 2017 for children, teens, and adults. For the first time readers can register online using Beanstack, where you can earn badges and set reading goals. This year’s theme is “Build a Better World” Each library has different activities and prizes, but you need a valid library card to participate.

During the 2014 summer reading program the most recent library data I could find, 29,847 participants read 358,660 books. Wouldn’t it be amazing if 100,000 readers signed up this year?

In addition to reading books, you can also support your local library by volunteering with the Friends of the Library of Hawaii. Help out during the summer reading program and throughout the year – such as shelving books, selling used books, counting visitors, or donning a costume to delight the kids. Contact your local branch to ask how you can help build a better local library.

Students in grades 1-6 can also join the Barnes and Noble summer reading program, from May 16 to September 5, 2017. Students can read any eight books this summer and record them in the Summer Reading Journal, along with a note about your favorite part, and you can earn a FREE book from the book list on the back of the journal. There are two Barnes and Noble stores in Hawaii, in Honolulu, Oahu and Lahaina, Maui.


Mahalo to Hawaii Public Libraries and Barnes and Noble, for encouraging readers, discovery, and imagination.

What books will you read this summer? What does building a better world mean to you?


2015 summer reading programs in Hawaii

May 26, 2015

This summer, when you’re planning to lounge at the beach or relax in the park, take a new friend – a book, a magazine, a graphic novel – with you. While idling before an appointment, standing in line, or waiting for the bus, take out a book and read. Before rushing home after work, avoid heavy traffic and read a book. And don’t forget to pack a book for your children, your nieces and nephews, and young cousins.

In addition to learning new things and delving into new worlds, you can get rewarded for reading. There are two reading programs in Hawaii:

Hawaii Public Libraries Summer Reading 2015

* The Hawaii Public Libraries Summer Reading Program, May 31 to July 18, 2015. Children, teens, and adults can read at least one book each week and earn cool prizes. There are three reading programs: “Every Hero Has a Story” for elementary students, “Unmask!” for teens, and “Escape the Ordinary” for adults. We can all read a book about a famous or significant person in history, write about the influential people in our lives, or even create our own superhero.

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading 2015

* The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading program, “Imagination’s Destination,” May 19 to September 7, 2015. Elementary students in grades 1-6 can read 8 books, record them in the Reading Journal, and turn in their Reading Journal for a free book from the book list (there are stores located in Honolulu, Oahu and Lahaina, Maui). Download a free printable Summer Reading Kit to help kids keep track of favorite books, explore different genres, and more.

There is even a national reading program that you can join online:

* The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, a free online program that runs from May 4 through September 4, 2015. Kids can log the minutes they spend reading, play games, earn virtual rewards, and enter sweepstakes, all in an effort to set a new reading world record for summer 2015!

What books will you read this summer? Where are your favorite places to read?

“Reading in the Wild” by Donalyn Miller

March 7, 2015

Reading in the Wild

I was not surprised to recognize myself in the pages of “Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits” (2014) by elementary school teacher and author Donalyn Miller, with reading teacher Susan Kelley. I love to read; but aside from reading to my son and buying or borrowing books for him, I haven’t really thought about how I could teach him to love reading too.

“Reading in the Wild” shows me how we can help children love reading, by pinpointing five characteristics of “wild” readers – people who love to read – and showing us habits that encourage reading. Written for teachers, it is based on the belief that “teaching our students to be wild readers is not only possible; it is our ethical responsibility as reading teachers and lifelong readers” (page xxiv).

The authors cite research that shows that children who are readers are more successful in school; have greater opportunities in life; are more likely to succeed in the workforce; and are more likely to vote in elections, volunteer for charities, and support the arts. Students would probably not be persuaded by these arguments – but principals, school districts, and donors might be.

Here are the five characteristics of “wild” readers and just a few strategies to encourage lifelong reading habits in students (and everyone):

1. Wild readers dedicate time to read. Find time to read on the edge-times – between classes, on the way to practice, while waiting, during commercials, in the car or bus. Always carry a book for “reading emergencies.”

2. Wild readers self-select reading material. Set aside time to read aloud in the classroom – this creates shared experiences, exposes students to new authors and genres, supports developing readers, and makes reading enjoyable. Create book buzz about new books by presenting book commercials, reading an excerpt, and/or holding “book drawings” for who gets to read popular books first. Start a “Books to Read” list. Keep a “Reader’s Notebook” with title, author, genre, start and end date, and star rating.

3. Wild readers hare books and reading with other readers. Add book recommendations and home reading tips in school newsletters and on class websites. Create a bulletin board with “I am currently reading…” signs in classrooms. Host a book swap or book drive. Ask students to present “book commercials” about their favorite books.

4. Wild readers have reading plans. Commit to reading with challenge plans such as reading a certain number of books, reading books you never finished, or reading an entire series. Keep a “Books to Read” list. Write down reading plans and check out books.

5. Wild readers show preferences for genres, authors, and topics. Add more nonfiction to book talks and read nonfiction texts aloud. Read at least one book in different genres.

“Reading in the Wild” is easy to read, practical, and inspiring. Though most teachers are not dedicated reading teachers, there are useful tips for incorporating and encouraging reading in daily and weekly lessons. I already use some of these strategies at home with my 8-year old son. There’s a helpful appendix with reading worksheets, surveys, and a list of students’ favorite titles and series.

I am a wild reader. Are you a wild reader too?

Best books of 2013

December 31, 2013

Best Books of 2013

Sometimes all we need are loving family, good friends, great books, and chocolate. I can at least help with the “great books” part!

This year has been filled with hilarious children’s books and amazing novels. Here are some of the best books I’ve read this year:

Best weird and hilarious children’s books (grades 1-3):
* “My Weird School” series by Dan Gutman and illustrated by Jim Paillot – about a boy who hates school and has to cope with a know-it-all girl, a teacher who doesn’t know anything, and an accident-prone principal (my 6 year old son loves this series, which continues in the “My Weird School Daze” and “My Weirder School” series; librarians everywhere will love Mrs. Roopy!)

Best “I will survive” young adult fantasy:
* “Vessel” by Sarah Beth Durst – about the greater good, trust, and self-determination

Best innocence-charms-the-predators urban fantasy:
* “Written in Red” by Anne Bishop – about inner strength, freedom, experiencing the world, and family, in a world where “Human Law Does Not Apply”

Best deeply emotional, runs with Death and madness werewolf fantasy:
* Silver” by Rhiannon Held – about descending into madness to cope with trauma, seeing someone as they are, and true leadership

Best choose adjectives high-octane, sword-wielding, crazy dangerous fantasy:
* “The Third Kingdom” by Terry Goodkind – about the reason vs. slavery, free will vs. prophecy, the balance of life and death, and choosing your future

Best dystopian, dark side of superheroes science fiction adventure:
* “Steelheart” by Brandon Sanderson – about absolute power corrupting absolutely, the price of fighting for freedom, and finding a purpose

Best sword-wielding, demon mask influencing urban and historical fantasy:
* “Year of the Demon” by Steve Bein – about duty vs. honor, choosing the hard path, committing to a course of action (vs. over-thinking), and justice vs. the law

Best hilarious father-and-son Star Wars graphic comic:
* “Darth Vader and Son” by Jeffrey Brown – about fatherhood, frustration, and 4-year old boys

Best glimpse into an elementary school classroom in Hawaii:
* “Teacher, You Look Like a Horse! Lessons From the Classroom” (2003) by Frances H. Kakugawa – about a love of children, reading, and poetry

Best up-beat and down-to-earth guide to life:
* “You’re Only Human: A Guide to Life” (2013) written and illustrated by The Gecko – about money, work, manners, pie and chips, and the secrets of the universe

Have a Happy New Year and remember to make books a part of every day!

Read Across America 2013

March 1, 2013

Read Across America

March 1 is the 16th annual Read Across America Day, sponsored by the National Education Association. This year’s theme is “Grab your Hat and Read with the Cat!” Here are some activities you can do to celebrate reading and make books fun!

* Visit a storytime or watch “Seussical”. In Honolulu, Barnes and Noble at Kahala Mall is celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday with a “Green Eggs and Ham” storytime on March 2 @ 11 am. On Maui, Barnes and Noble in Lahaina has a storytime on March 2 @ 10 am. In Kapolei, watch a special performance of songs from the musical “Seussical” at the Kapolei Public Library at 10:30 am, by students from the Performing Arts Center of Kapolei (PACK).

* Read aloud with your children. PBS’ “Between the Lions” show has some great suggestions for reading aloud: Turn off the TV and radio. Find a quiet, comfortable space. Read slowly and with expression. Create different voices for different characters. Let kids hold the book or turn the pages. Point to words on the page and explain unfamiliar words. Ask kids questions about the story and what they liked about it.

* Make a Cat in the Hat Pop-up. You can make a Cat in the Hat Pop Up craft using a toilet paper roll, paper, crayons, and a dowel (or chopstick). “Stuff by Ash” lets us download a free template to color, cut, and paste and add some Suess-tastic excitement to our day.

* Travel across America by reading books that take place in different states. LaFayette, New York teacher Erin McQuiston and Westmoreland, Tennessee librarian Donna McCrory compiled a 50 State Booklist. Here are the books they highlight for Hawaii:“Pearl Harbor” by Deborah Hopkinson: “Under the Blood Red Sun” by Graham Salisbury; “The Broccoli Tapes” by Jan Slepian; “The Story of the U.S.S. Arizona” by Conrad Stein; and “The Last Princess: The story of Princess Ka’iulani of Hawai’i” by Fay Stanley.

* Share Read Across America bookmarks. You can never have enough books – or bookmarks! Download and print “Read Across America” bookmarks to share with family and friends. Add a special message or book recommendation on the back. Or share a “Bookmark the Facts” bookmark with kids to help them remember the books they read.

Let’s read to our children – or have them read to us – today and every day!

Four years, four bookprints

January 1, 2013

Like footprints in the sand, a Bookprint is the mark that a book leaves on your life. The “You Are What You Read” campaign encourages readers to share our Bookprints, the five books that most influenced our lives. I felt overwhelmed when I tried to choose the books that have had a big impact on my entire life, so I decided to start with the books that have only recently changed my life.

I’d like to share four books that have inspired me over the past four years:

* “Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations” (2008) by Alex Harris and Brett Harris.
Before I even started this blog, I was challenged to step out of my comfort zone by 19-year old twin brothers Alex and Brett Harris in their book, “Do Hard Things.” They encourage teenagers and everyone to do hard things instead of just getting by; and the first suggestion they make is to do hard things that take you out of your comfort zone. I wasn’t ready for a blog just yet, but they threw down the challenge. I submitted ideas to the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii’s 2009 “DOE Trim the Fat” contest – and won second place for ideas to improve our public libraries. Last year, I headed a school fundraiser and joined the board of my homeowners association.

* “Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone” (2009) by Mitch Joel.
It really started with, because they sent me this book. I was a little overwhelmed, but one line jumped out at me: “Start your own blog – now” (page 262). Just five words, practical and blunt, words I’ve heard before and an idea I’ve thought of before, coming at the right time – a time when I wanted to be heard, and WordPress gave me a voice. The first “Better Hawaii” post was published on January 2, 2010.

* “Start Something That Matters” (2011) by Blake Mycoskie.
Mycoskie challenges us to redefine capitalism and find solutions through entrepreneurship, not charity.  As Mycoskie’s story unfolds, you can see his shift from making money to helping people to inspiring people to help others. was only briefly mentioned in the book, but its mission stuck with me: to help people donate to classrooms in need. My first donation was to a classroom in Kea‘au, Hawaii, where my mother was born, to help students learn about marine science. Though the book is not about education, I also started reading a lot more about public education and what makes great teachers, because parents and teachers have the opportunity to inspire children every single day. We don’t all have to start something new – we can start doing things that matter.

* “Living Artfully: A Heart-full Guide of Ideas and Inspirations That Celebrate Life, Love, and Moments That Matter” (2006) by Sandra Magsamen.
“To live artfully is to live life fully, with meaning and a purpose – to bring beauty into being” (page 4), Magsamen says passionately. Just reading the first chapter inspired me: instead of buying holiday decorations, I made my own cardboard cut-outs of Santa, a reindeer, a gingerbread man, and a surfing menehune (elf) using pens, paints, and a utility knife. I signed up for a ceramics class at a community center, throwing my first pots and hand-making leaf and fish plates.

What books have inspired you? What books have left their bookprints on your life?

Sharing books on World Book Night

April 17, 2012

Last week, we celebrated National Library Week. This week, on April 23, 50,000 book-loving volunteers across America, the United Kingdom, and Ireland will celebrate World Book Night. Their goal is to share 30 selected books in their community, giving books to people who don’t read much or who don’t have easy access to books. The books have been donated by publishers, bookstores, libraries, authors, printers, and paper companies, while volunteers donate their time and enthusiasm.

It’s also World Book and Copyright Day, honoring the deaths of Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Inca Garcilaso on April 23, 1616, hosted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The celebration was inspired by Saint George’s Day in Catalonia, when a rose was given as a gift for each book sold.

But you don’t need to be a World Book Day participant or World Book Night volunteer to share the books you love. Why not share one of your favorite books with a friend or neighbor? Or sign up with a free site that let’s you swap books with other readers, like,, and Then there’s, a community of book lovers who add a BookCrossing label to their books, set them free, and find out where in the world the books end up.

What are your favorite books? What books can you share today?