Hawaii State Library Photo Credit Joel Bradshaw

Hawaii Children’s Books for Toddlers – Favorites

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
~ Emilie Buchwald

When my 2 year old son asks me to read a story over and over as he perches in my lap, I call it the “downloading” phase. After he’s done “downloading” he will often sit independently and recite his version of the book to himself. Observing this practice is one of my great joys. Several of his favorite books are written by Hawaii authors and printed in Hawaii and it is my pleasure to share them with you.

Our Favorite Hawaii Children’s Books

Animals Sing Aloha Hawaii Childrens Book

Animals Sing Aloha


by Vera Arita
Illustrated by Ron Louie

This is a very interactive book that teaches reading and writing the alphabet. The author specifically designed this book to introduce young children to phonics. As we sing through the song we trace the letters. My son often recognizes the birds or gecko that we see around the island. The illustrations are vibrant and fun, similar to an Eric Carle book. As a parent, I feel that this is one of the best local books out there; educational AND fun!

If You were a Dinosaur in Hawaii Children's Book

If You Were A Dinosaur in Hawaii


Illustrated by Holly Braffet

We received this book as a gift when my son was born. And my first thought was, who in the world thought of dinosaurs in Hawaii? My first suspicion was that this book was not actually from Hawaii but it turns out that it is. My son recently went through a dinosaur phase and we read this book multiple times daily. The story rhymes so he enjoyed reciting it over and over. The dinosaurs do a lot of local activities like dancing hula or eating mangoes.


Let's Find Koa Hawaii Children's Book

Let’s Find Koa!


by Jocelyn Calma
Illustrated by Kristi Petosa-Sigel

Each page features one tropical fish that is searching for Koa and there are pull out tabs that reveal each colored fish. My son frequents a local tropical fish store and recognizes a lot of the fish from reading this book.  You will need to coach your toddler to treat this book gently. A strong tug will remove the pull out tabs. My son loved and unintentionally destroyed our copy.

Keikis First Word Book Hawaii Children's Book

Keiki’s First Word Book


by David Del Rocco
Illustrated by Lance Bowen

We borrowed this book from the library because my son saw the whale on the cover. It’s a simple book with words in English and Hawaiian. The words are grouped into themes like My Ohana or My Day at the Beach. My son enjoys word books and enjoyed observing the illustrations more than reciting the words. I think some of the Hawaiian may have been difficult due to the tongue twisting nature of the Hawaiian language.

Goodnight Hawaiian Moon Children's Book

Goodnight Hawaiian Moon


by Dr. Carolan
Illustrated by Joanna F. Carolan

My husband selected this book on one of our island hopping trips to Kauai. He particularly liked that it showed all of the playful local creatures awake and then asleep. It was a great story to show our energetic little boy that there is a time for play and a time for sleep. He especially connected with the hermit crabs because he had recently gone to the beach with Grammy and Grandpa and watched the hermit crabs crawl about and then hide in their shells. This book also comes with an audio CD by Grammy Award Nominee, Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom singing her rendition of Brahms’ Lullaby in Hawaiian and English.

Come back for More

It’s been a pleasure to share these books with you and your keiki.
There are two related posts coming soon:

  • Hawaii Children’s Books for Toddlers – Wish List
  • Hawaii Children’s Books for Toddlers – Coloring Books

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A hui hou