In November 2021, Traci Robello, Early Literacy Coordinator for Maui Family Support Services, contacted Waikapu Publishing Company owners Jenny Coon and Nicki Barsamian with a proposal to create a new children’s book through to a grant.
The result is Huaka’io Maui: A Family Guide to the Island.
The book, written by Coon and illustrated by Barsamian, features beautiful places on Maui that local families love to visit, including parks, beaches and farms across the island – and four family businesses, including the Maui Ocean Center .
Robello said the book offers “place-based learning,” in which local children and families will see familiar places with people who look like them doing the things they do.
“This kind of learning will increase children’s desire to read, look at and talk about pictures, listen to words and rhymes, and inevitably develop their love for books,” Robello said. “This book will also act as a catalyst, encouraging local families to explore new places around the island and have new experiences with each other.”
The book was funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant to Maui Family Support Services for its Early Literacy Project for children from birth to age 5. the University of Hawaii.
The three main initiatives of the grant are children’s literacy, family literacy and culture-based education. The book meets all three requirements.
During the pandemic, Waikapu Publishing had successfully self-published two children’s books: Huli the Hawaiian Chicken: Dance on the Moon and Huli the Hawaiian Chicken: Searching for the Snow.
Both books are in circulation from the State Library of Hawaii. Huli the Hawaiian Chicken: Searching for the Snow can also be purchased at Ululani’s seven Hawaiian Shave Ice stores around Maui.
Paperback versions of the new book are available on Amazon.com. Board books are available at https://waikapupublishing.square.site/.