New Lanai-based Guided Reading Books for Keiki
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In Diane Preza’s more than 20-year teaching career on Lanai, she always ran into the same challenge: not having appropriate levels of guided reading books for young keiki learning how to read. “Books for children at the five-year-old reading level are actually very hard to find,” she said. She would end up using the same books year after year and always wished for new books to add to the rotation.
In addition to the limited level of books for beginning readers, Preza also noticed a lack of guided reading books by local authors. To address both challenges, Lanai Culture and Heritage Center (Lanai CHC) partnered with Kamehameha Schools to create a set of English and Hawaiian guided reading books that have a special connection to the island.
The Lanai-based guided reading books are a labor of love for Preza, a Lanai CHC board member, and daughter Shelly, executive director of Lanai CHC. The duo chose the words for each book, selected photos and worked on every detail down to choosing the most legible font.
Getting Children Ready to Read
Guided reading books are used in small groups made up of one teacher and about six students at similar reading levels. Guided reading is a component of a balanced literacy program, allowing for teacher guidance, and prepares early readers to move on to more challenging reading. The teacher starts off by introducing the book, then the group takes a picture walk, talking about the pictures on each page. The teacher will ask the students if there is anything in the pictures they can relate to. For example, if there is a picture of the beach, the teacher might ask about their experiences going to the beach.
Next, students quietly read out loud on their own, with the teacher taking notes and helping students through challenging sounds and words.
Lanai Stories for Lanai Students
Although the ultimate goal of guided reading books is to teach early reading skills, local books can also provide place-based learning which aids in comprehension and can spur thoughtful discussions about one’s home. A guided reading book about somewhere on Lanai is much more relatable to a Lanai student than a book about somewhere surrounded by snow.
Sixteen books that touch on places specific to Lanai, such as Hulopoe and Maunalei, make up Lanai CHC’s guided reading book set. The Hawaiian language set can be a helpful tool for those learning to speak Hawaiian because they feature different grammatical structures.
As children progress through a book, repeating high-frequency sounds and words, they’re also exposed to photos that help tell a visual story of each location. “The hope is to get students to start thinking about stewardship through pictures,” said Diane. “The pictures show what has happened or what’s happening now to our land. And we can ask what are we able to do about it?”
Lanai CHC is working to share the books with Lanai High and Elementary School, as well as other schools across the state, including Hawaiian immersion schools. The Lanai-based guided reading books support literacy on Lanai by providing students with stories they can relate to, ultimately spurring discussions about their island when at home with their ohana.
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