Professor provides language books to Hawaiian immersion schools

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Nov 18, 2009

Ua Kau Ko'u Weli (I Was Terrified), illustrated by Solomon Enos.
Ua Kau Ko'u Weli (I Was Terrified), illustrated by Solomon Enos.
Oiai Au E Hiamoe Ana (While I Was Sleeping), illustrated by Chuck Souza.
Oiai Au E Hiamoe Ana (While I Was Sleeping), illustrated by Chuck Souza.
A shortage of experts to develop curricula materials, particularly children’s books, for Hawaiian language immersion classrooms, and a shortage of funds to produce the curricula influenced associate professor Sam L. No’eau Warner of UH Mānoa’s Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language’s to develop books focusing primarily on Hawaiian language and literacy.
With the help of an I Mua Nō Ka ‘Ulu grant—awarded in 2005 and funded by the U.S. Department of Education under the Native Hawaiian Education Act—Warner published 31 Hawaiian language books for Hawaiian immersion classrooms. They are aimed at helping Hawaiian immersion children and beginning learners and above to learn specific grammatical structures, vocabulary and/or ways of speaking of kupuna, which have been problematic for the past 21 years of the program.  Warner wrote 30 of the books (two are co-written) and his colleague, assistant professor Laiana Wong, authored the other.
“The struggle to raise the standard of teaching and learning in Hawaiian language immersion classrooms has long posed a challenge since the program’s inception 21 years ago,” said Warner. “This project seeks to increase literacy development in the entire Hawaiian community so that everyone can literally be on the same page.”
Boxed sets of the hard-covered, glossy and colorfully illustrated books were delivered to about 100 classrooms across the state, including 24 Hawaiian Immersion Schools, including Ni‘ihau School and two Hawaiian medium schools for Ni‘ihau children residing on Kaua‘i.
The books are written with a modern-day focus with the idea of validating the children‘s own daily lives, and were illustrated by local, mostly native Hawaiian artists. Most of the artists were previously unpublished, and they all added their own local flavor to the books, making these unique from books authored and born on the mainland.
While the primary focus for the grant was literacy for children in grades K-3, books were provided to all classrooms in grades K-12 to foster the learning of Hawaiian in the entire immersion community.
For a complete listing of book titles, contact No’eau Warner at or 956-3560.