“I don’t think books or libraries will ever go out of style,” said first lady Dawn Amano-Ige. “Reading lets you share in other people’s worlds, discover new ideas and explore possibilities. And libraries are places where the community can connect.” Mrs. Ige joined Rep. Lynn DeCoite and others on Moloka‘i last month to mark the start of the Hawai‘i State Public Library System’s Summer Reading Program, which runs through July 13, and to lay the groundwork for future projects.
The first lady and state librarian Stacey Aldrich are among the most avid cheerleaders for reading in any form. “We know it’s vital for language and brain development, especially in the first five years of a child’s life,” said Mrs. Ige. One big advantage for Hawai‘i residents is that all 51 library branches are connected in one statewide network accessible on any island.
“Being the only statewide system in the nation makes a huge difference,” Aldrich said. “No matter where you are, you have access to our entire collection of physical and digital resources.” Those resources are just a click away on the library system’s newly redesigned website at https://www.librarieshawaii.org. The user-friendly site urges you to “read, attend, learn, research and connect” through books and beyond. It can help connect you to resources to learn a foreign language, take an online course, join a book club, and discover library events statewide. The site also offers “hot picks,” ebooks, audio books and pre-K to 3rd grade interactive books with games for children.
Hawai‘i’s librarians are constantly looking for ways to create events that excite people about reading. Mrs. Ige said there’s still time for students and people of all ages to participate in the summer program, “A Universe of Stories.” Besides helping the state reach its goal of 13 million minutes of reading (last year Hawai‘i surpassed its goal), the popular annual program features a chance to win a round trip for four to anywhere Alaska Airlines flies. “Last year a 7-year-old won the grand prize and took his family to Disney World,” Aldrich recalled. To register, go to librarieshawaii.beanstack.org. Aldrich is also excited about future plans, such as a sound room at the new Nānākuli Library to archive oral histories from kūpuna and more adult literacy programs. “Through new community partnerships, we’re developing more programs, such as a maker space on Kaua‘i or loaning out ‘ukulele provided by the Music for Life Foundation,” she explained.
Any advice for busy families trying to squeeze in more reading time? “Start with some family reading time a few minutes a day or on weekends,” the first lady suggested. “Reading is a habit that’s going to help every family build better opportunities for the future.” Aldrich agrees with the author of the book “Palaces for the People,” who says public libraries and other shared spaces are vital for keeping democracies strong. “Libraries are places where everyone is welcome. We need to invest in these spaces if we want to stay connected, not divided, as a nation,” Aldrich said.