Sharing The Fun Of ReadingStories make the world go around. “Stories help young people to understand their world,” says Mark Jeffers. “If they can reach for a book when they have a problem or have something they really need to understand, then they will have a tool that lasts their entire lives. Books help to heal, solve problems and bring about your own personal dreams.”
As Storybook Theatre of Hawaii executive director, Jeffers is among a group of local authors inspiring keiki to read more books. Kauai Children’s Authors Guild (KCAG) members work together not only to support each other, but also to promote literacy and creativity in young children. For the past month they’ve been reading books in preschool, kindergarten and elementary school classrooms, and encouraging keiki to write their own stories. Their mission is part of the annual “Read Across Kauai Day,” in which some children are awarded their own books to take home.
“Kids oftentimes don’t even have the experience of holding a book in their hands,” says Susan Dierker, who has written several children’s stories.
She notes that with the Internet and electronics, children are less inclined to reach for books.
“I believe that books should be held in the hand and maybe become a family heirloom that’s passed down through generations,” posits Dierker.
The group’s founding member, Monika Mira, realized the necessity of children’s books after giving birth to her son Brayden (8).
“Reading aloud to children is not just so much an educational process,” she says, “it’s about bonding with your children.”
While writing was a fulfilling mission for her, Mira found that she often missed out on personal interactions.
“When you’re an author, you are behind a computer in your house by yourself for so many months,” she says.
To remedy that situation, she started connecting with other local authors.
“I found out that every single time I connected with another author, something good happened,” she says.
Together they formed KCAG and became “stronger as a group.” They regularly network, and sponsor various events and workshops. Still, one of the best parts for the group’s core members — Mira, Jeffers, Dierker and Carol Peacock-Williams — is being able to read their books aloud to keiki each year for Read Across Kauai Day.
“They get to meet a real, live author, and that’s really special,” says Jeffers, who wrote a book titled, The Eye of the Lion, Story of My First Hurricane, about children’s experiences during Hurricane Iniki.
“So many times I’ve had the experience where kids can’t even believe they’re getting to take a book home,” says Dierker, who penned two children’s stories about her dog, Knuckles, the Hound of Hanalei and Albatross of Kauai, the Story of Kaloakulua.
During the inaugural “Read Across Kauai Day” in 2014, the group distributed 450 books to keiki, and last year it donated 1,000. This year, KCAG hopes that number will be even higher.
“If the child does get to take home the book that’s by the author, they’re really excited about it,” says Mira.
“It’s cool to read,” she says. Visit kauaichildrensauthors.blogspot.com for more information.