By James Lonergan, IMLS Senior Program Officer
Laurie Brooks (IMLS Associate Deputy Director for State Programs) and I recently returned from Honolulu, Hawaii, where we met with grantees from three U.S. Pacific Territories: American Samoa; Guam; and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI); and three U.S.-affiliated Freely Associated States: the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM); the Republic of Palau; and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). Our purpose was to host a Pacific Region Training Workshop and to learn more about how IMLS funds are being used in the region. In addition to discussions about best practices in grants administration and individual meetings with grantees, we had a special focus on early learning.
Supporting the youngest learners is a priority for IMLS and the workshop was a great opportunity to hear about what’s working and to give our grantees an opportunity to learn from each other. It is clear that there is a lot going on! We heard about the “Every Child Ready to Read” program at the Feleti Barstow Public Library in American Samoa; story hours at the Guam Public Library System; “Motheread/Fatheread” at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library in CNMI; early literacy outreach to Head Start programs by the Palau Public Library; and summer reading, story hours, and other programming at Alele Museum and Public Library in RMI and in public and school libraries in FSM.
Josephine Jones-Lizama, a senior specialist at Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL), presented a session titled “Fostering Early Literacy in our Libraries.” Ms. Jones-Lizama detailed the stages of emergent literacy and presented examples of programs that foster early literacy and ways of involving parents in supporting the development of their children’s literacy.
And then it was time for hands-on learning. We attended a preschool story hour given by children’s librarian Vicky Dworkin in the Edna Allyn Room for Children at the Hawaii State Library, and “Auntie Brenda,” Brenda Freitas-Obregon, storyteller and children’s librarian at the Kalihi-Palama Public Library demonstrated how she shares the love of books and reading with children.
We all left the workshop with good ideas that can be put into action to support young learners.