‘Ohana Readers to launch for Moloka’i’s youngest keiki

Posted on Sep 12, 2019 in Capitol Connection, Featured

“Giving our youngest children an opportunity to love reading is one of the best ways we can contribute to a child’s future success in school and life.”
— First lady  Dawn Amano-Ige

Moloka‘i families with young children will soon be receiving free books in their mailboxes every month, thanks to a project announced recently by first lady Dawn Amano-Ige. The ‘Ohana Readers project will provide free books by mail to children from birth to age 4 and a half through a partnership between local organizers, including the state Department of Human Services (DHS), the Hawai‘i Library system, Friends of the Library, the office of Rep. Lynn DeCoite, Read to Me International, other community groups, and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

“We know that the early years are a critical time for a child’s brain development. I wanted to be able to build on that by encouraging families to read together and build in valuable bonding time,” said Mrs. Ige. Parents may sign up for this program at Kualapu‘u School’s ‘Ohana Fun Fair  on Oct. 19 so they can begin receiving books on a regular basis. Part of the costs will be covered by a federal grant administered through DHS and the Learning to Grow program. Children enrolled in the program will receive quality, age-appropriate books in their mailboxes once a month.

Mrs. Ige reads to young children at the Moloka'i Public Library

Mrs. Ige reads to young children at the Moloka’i Public Library

“The books have positive messages, such as ‘The Little Engine That Could,’” said Mary Ann Nemoto, Learning to Grow project administrator. “Being read to by people they love creates positive family bonds for children and fosters opportunities for them to learn and grow — especially as they make the transition to kindergarten.” Mrs. Ige said the idea is also to connect families to the state’s public library system and encourage children to read more.

Dolly Parton may be best known for her music, but she said she created the Imagination Library as a tribute to her father, who never learned to read. “He was the smartest man I have ever known, but his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all his dreams,” said Parton on her website. The Imagination Library has grown into a worldwide program that gives a book a month to well over 1 million children worldwide. For more information, contact Leah Belmonte at [email protected] or Kui Adolpho at (808) 567-9050.

Read more in the October Capitol Connection newsletter

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