Justin was in kindergarten when Kalihi Kai Elementary School began Golden Moment Hawai‘i, a collaboration between Kristy Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation (ADF) and Hawai‘i P-20 to bring “Always Reading” into Hawai‘i public schools. It’s a very simple program: it offers kindergarten children a wide variety of books, which parents commit to read to their children — a little every day.
Each week, Justin’s teacher handed out “little red bags” for students to take home — each bag contained three different books to take home so their parents could read them the stories.
Like many retired seniors, Tu¯ tu¯ Helen De Castro helps raise her grandson, so she began reading to Justin, every day for 15 or 20 minutes, before dinner or bedtime. The children liked the little red bags more than the school library. The parents loved the quality time, and Justin looked forward to getting “my books” every week.
“Reading is so important,” says Grandma Helen. “In math you have to read the problems. When something goes wrong with a computer, you have to read the directions to fix it. Reading opens the whole world to kids. ‘Always Reading’ opened up Justin’s world, too.”
Kindergarteners sponge up everything that comes their way. “Justin listens to a story a couple of times, and by then he has it memorized. He counts to 10 in Spanish, and memorizes all the dialogue on his Leap Frog DVDs. I wish he would memorize Grandma’s shopping list!” says Helen.
Now Justin is a first-grader and little red bags are only for kindergarten kids, but he and Helen still read together every day. “Finding new books to read to my grandson is always on my shopping list,” says Helen. She likes Walmart, the Library and Savers for books on all reading levels. She also gets bargains on used books at some branches of the Hawaii State Credit Union.
“A funny thing happened,” adds Helen, “Justin has started writing his own stories. His classmate draws nice illustrations, and I get to staple the ‘book’ together. With just a pencil and a piece of scratch paper, he is happy to amuse himself. When we go to the grocery, he rides in the cart and reads his book.”
Helen offers this advice: “Grandparents can do a lot to support the literacy of their grandchildren ; if you read to them every day, they take to it.”
ALWAYS READING PROGRAM by Always Dream Foundation For inquiries, email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.alwaysdream.org/programs HAWAII STATE PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEMS www.tinyurl.com/HSPLS-LibraryBranches