When I was a little girl, our family vacations were far and few between. Most of the time they involved all seven of us piling into the family station wagon, no air conditioning in the heat of summer, off to visit a member of the extended family.
If it weren’t for books, I wouldn’t have known there was a whole other world out there. I was an avid reader and liked to read about life in other places…whether it was Paddington Bear in London, life on the frontier through the Little House on the Prairie series, or Canadian life in the early 1900s through Anne of Green Gables. Books took me somewhere exciting and different.
The old classics are still there, but in today’s world the possibilities of travel through books are endless. If you’re eager to get your children anticipating your trip to Hawaii…or maybe just planning a “destination staycation” where your family can escape to Hawaii through books…no matter their age.
The number of books available relating Hawaii are quite extensive. The key is to find the books that you or your family will enjoy the most. Whether you’ve got little ones who like picture books or the ultra planner who wants a guide to activities, there is something for everyone.
My family always checks availability at the library first hoping to save some money. But when it comes to guidebooks, you always want the latest edition and something you can scribble notes in, so I recommend purchasing your copy.
Hawaiian Books for the Youngest Family Members
For the real little ones, it’s fun to have them settle down in your lap while you read them a story. There are some great books for the younger kids in your bunch.
- Good Night Hawaii by Adam Gamble. A beautiful board book written for toddlers teaching them about Hawaii’s beaches, foods, and beautiful coral reef. Geared to the 0- to 4-year-old.
- Rock-a-Bye Baby in Hawaii by BeachHouse Publishing. This board book can be read…or sang to your little one to the traditional lullaby “Rock-a-Bye Baby.”
- Hawaiian Ocean Lullaby by Beth Greenway. Another board book that introduces your toddler to the Hawaiian ocean wonders like whales, dolphins, and mantas.
- Aloha, Hawaii by Martha Zschock. This book is part of an “around-the-world” series by the author. In this installation, a mother and child macaw visit Hawaii. Geared for the 2- to 5-year-old.
- Seashore Touch-n-See Hawai’i by Ellie Crowe. This book takes your child on a journey through the Hawaiian waters. It’s both educational and fun as the little ones want to touch the cute little Hawaiian critters over and over.
- ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – in Hawaii – by Valjeanne Budar. A Hawaiian twist on a Christmas classic. It includes a glossary of common Hawaiian words. Geared toward ages 5 and up.
- A is for Aloha: A Hawai’i Alphabet by J’ilani Goldsberry. A great opportunity to learn the language as well as some history and many wonderful things about the Aloha State. Geared towards ages 6 to 9.
Hawaiian Fiction for Beginning Readers
These books are great for those kiddos who are just beginning their independent reading journey. They can read independently, read to you, or maybe even read to their siblings.
- Froggy Goes to Hawaii, by Jonathan London. The “Froggy” series is a bestseller. In this book, Froggy is off to Hawaii. Even things never seem to go as planned, he still manages to hula, surf, and swim and have an overall good time.
- The Hawaiian Heist by Geronimo Stilton. This is a whodunnit mystery as Geronimo Stilton, mouse publisher, tries to figure out who the thief of a jewel heist is. Geared towards ages 7 to 10.
- Junie B., First Grader: Aloha-Ha-Ha! by Barbara Park. Those who love the Junie B. Jones series knows that trouble accompanies her wherever she goes…even Hawaii. Geared to ages 7-9.
- Recipe for Adventure: Hawaii! by Gia De Laurentiis. This book is #6 of a series where the character Zia’s magic ingredient takes the children Alfie and Emilia on an island adventure to Hawaii, famous for its delicious food, luaus, and surfing. Geared towards ages 7 to 9.
- Thea Stilton and the Legend of the Fire Flowers by Thea Stilton. Book number 15 in the Thea Stilton series. This book finds the Thea Sisters in Hawaii to compete for a hula competition. Things go awry when a volcano is about to erupt. Geared towards ages 7 to 9.
- High Tide in Hawaii: Magic Tree House Book 28 by Mary Pope Osborne. If you have a reader just getting into chapter books, the Magic Tree House series can be a lot of fun for kids to learn about places and events in history. In this particular book, the main characters Jack and Annie are headed to Hawaii. They help an island community survive a tidal wave and learn to surf.
- Calvin Coconut: Hero of Hawaii by Graham Salisbury. Calvin has great plans for his sister’s birthday. Unfortunately, a big storm hits his home in the Hawaiian islands causing unforeseen complications. It’s up to Calvin to save the day. Geared towards ages 8 to 12.
Hawaiian Historical Fiction for Children
- Lydia and the Island Kingdom by Joan Holub. This is part of the “Young Princesses Around the World Series.” This is the story of the young Princess Liliuokalani. Geared towards ages 6 to 8.
- Attack on Pearl Harbor (Ranger in Time Series) by Kate Messner. This book is set to be published in July 2020. In this installment of the “Ranger in Time” series, Ranger the dog travels back in time to Hawaii and where he makes new friends…just as the attack at Pearl Harbor begins. Geared towards ages 7 to 10.
- Pearl Harbor (American Girl: Real Stories from My Time) by Jennifer Swanson. This installment of the “Real Stories from My Time Series involves fictional American Girl Nanea Mitchell and takes place around Pearl Harbor. It includes a glossary, historical photos, and a timeline.
Children’s Hawaiian Fiction and Travel Guides
- What’s Great About Hawaii? by Mary Meinking. In this book you can find out the top ten things to places to go and things to do in Hawaii. Geared towards grades 2 to 5.
- Hawai’i Volcanoes (A True Book: National Parks) by Karina Hamalainen. This book is part of the National Parks series published by True Book. Geared towards grades 3 and above.
- Hawaii: The Aloha State by Emily Rose Oachs. This book investigates what makes Hawaii unique from the other states. It talks about how volcanic activity helped form the islands and the beaches, bursting rain forests, and waterfalls. Geared towards grades 3 to 7.
- A Kid’s Guide to Hawaii by Jack L. Roberts. This book will take young readers on a journey to learn all about Hawaii. They can learn about Hawaii’s nature, wildlife, state history, and more. Geared towards grades 4 to 6.
- Hawai’i: True Stories of the Islands by Rick and Marcie Carroll. This book features many personal stories by different contributors as it explores Hawaii in a new way. Geared towards teens.
If you don’t find anything that hits your fancy, feel free to do a search using your local library’s online search function. See what comes up. You never know what kind of gem you’ll find…often written by local authors.
Hawaiian Coloring and Activity Books
Other things I enjoyed doing as a kid were coloring and activity books. We had an “educational” bookstore just about a mile from our house. We’d head over there the beginning of the summer and my mom would buy us some activity books to keep us busy (and I’m pretty sure to keep us out of her hair).
- The ABC Hawaii Coloring and Activity Book by Ruth Moen. Coloring pages and activities to help in learning your ABC’s and 123’s…while introducing Hawaii to your little ones. This book is advertised as geared towards grades 2 to 3, but it looks like many activities would be appropriate for the kindergartner and 1st grader also.
- Coloring Hawaii by Kelly Monis. This book is advertised as an adult coloring book, but the pictures are all drawn on a medium scale with lots of beaches, ocean, flowers, animals, and landscapes. It would be great for a slightly older kid (or an adult who still loves to color).
- Wonders of Life Hawaiian Edition: Coloring Book for Adults and Children by Natasha Nicole Portman. This coloring book is inspired by the art of zentangle and is meant to help you relax as you color. The details are large making it easier for older children to color. (Again, this one would also be fantastic for teens or adults.)
- Hawaii’s Ocean Animals Coloring and Activity Book by BeachHouse Publishing. This book contains 25 activities (dot-to-dots, word searches, color by numbers) and 64 pages to color. This book focuses on the ocean animals found around Hawaii. Geared towards 1st and 2nd graders.
- My Hawaii Coloring and Activity Book. by Hollyanne Shell. This book is advertised as geared towards 2nd to 3rd graders, but the simpleness of the activities would be easy for many kindergartners and 1st graders also. The pictures to be colored are nice and large.
- Pineapple Coloring Book for Kids by Ocean Front Press. This coloring book is a little silly and all pineapple. It’s especially great for anyone who loves this juicy and sweet fruit.
- Hawaii Coloring and Activity Book for Boys and Girls by Amelia ZaZa. This coloring book offers to help kids discover the beauty and culture of Hawaii. It also offers single-sided coloring pages to avoid tge bleeding through of markers.
- The How ‘Bout Hawaii Coloring Book! by Carole Marsh. This book includes reproducible coloring book that introduces you kids to important people, places, and facts to know about Hawaii. Geared towards Preschool to 3rd graders.
- Story of Hawaii Coloring Book (Dover History Coloring Book) by Y.S. Green. The “Dover History Coloring Book” series has been around for a long time. It offers lots of interesting and informative captions to accompany the pages to be colored. This coloring book is more detailed and is geared towards 8- to 12-year-olds.
I’ll admit it. Even at my age, I still enjoy sitting down with a good coloring book at the end of the day. I keep one by my desk along with some pens. It never gets old.
The Adventure Continues Through Hawaiian Books
In my house, the planning of adventures never ends. Sometimes we plan a trip, and it doesn’t happen because life gets in the way. We put it on the back burner until we’re ready to put the trip back on the calendar. But that doesn’t stop my hubby and I from reading and learning about our destination…whether through fiction, historical fiction, guide books, biographies…the possibilities are so extensive and each book adds to our appreciation of the trip when we finally get to go.
Do you have any favorite books that you enjoy about Hawaii, the culture, the history, the folk tales? I’d love to add them to the list. Just put them in the comments below.