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Po‘o Kula Dr. Chun joins student authors from KSK Kula Waena as they proudly display their newly published books

KSK Kula Waena students continue rich legacy of storytelling through book publishing project

Jan. 23, 2023

In 2020, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama seventh-grade English teacher Kalā Aukai and other kumu in Pū‘ulu Lehua envisioned an interdisciplinary unit that would encompass every area of a student’s curriculum – from science to social studies to ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i – while encapsulating an E Ola! Learner Outcome.

“An idea for a children’s book came along because there aren’t many children’s books tailored to ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i. We wanted to widen that market and give students the opportunity to interact with Hawaiian concepts while learning more about the Hawaiian language,” Aukai said.

They put pen to paper that fall, assigning the theme of aloha ‘āina. The kumu divvied up the kuleana: Aukai helped with drafting and editing the stories, while the ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i kumu aided with vocabulary and sentence structures. The social studies and science portions involved guiding students as they researched their ahupua‘a and discovered the special characteristics of the neighborhoods they call home.

Haumāna used the app Book Creator to publish their final work. To cap off the project, students read their books to KSK elementary second-graders.

“It gave them a spark – seeing that they could accomplish that sort of feat themselves,” Aukai said.

They switched concepts to ‘ike kūpuna the following year. The style of writing also progressed from fictional creative texts to nonfiction informational texts based on their grandparents’ backgrounds.

Mason Fong chose the story of his grandfather, a Japanese immigrant who moved to Hawai‘i to attend college.

“I got to hear what his life was like beyond small talk in the car,” Fong shared.

Now an eighth-grader, Fong cherishes the ‘ike gained from this experience.

“You can memorize facts but eventually they fade away. You always remember emotions, and that’s what storytelling gives,” he said. “We have a connection to stories because they are part of who we are.”

Thanks to support from KSK po‘o kula Dr. Taran Chun and his office, hardcopies of about 30 select stories are available in a devoted section of the KSK elementary library. Books average 20 pages and include an “About the Author” ho‘olauna page and illustrations captioned in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.

“Elementary students were in awe when they saw the books published by the middle-school students,” said librarian Ruby Redona. “They are inspired to write and publish their own work because of these books.”

“As Hawaiians, storytelling is so influential to our history and to our identity,” Aukai said. “I wanted the students to get that out of the experience – your voice matters and sharing that is important to pass on to the younger generation.”

‘ōlelo hawai‘i, e ola, kapalama

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