6 Hawai‘i-Inspired Children’s Books to Read With Your Keiki

Including a few hip, newer picks, and a couple vintage throwbacks we know they'll love.


As parents, teachers and caregivers, we are always looking for good books for keiki, right? And it feels even more special when we find Hawai‘i-inspired children’s books!


Did you know there is an official, international day dedicated to one of our favorite things—books? We didn’t either until this weekend, when we learned about UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day. It takes place every April 23, and is designed to be an opportunity for nations around the world to celebrate and “recognize the scope of books—a link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures.”


It’s true that books are especially powerful in exactly that way: inspiring, educating, and engaging with the children of today— who will be, after all, the thinkers of tomorrow. And that got us thinking about the ways we do that here in Hawai‘i. With our amazing pool of creative inspiration and creatives, there’s no wonder we’ve got a pretty great children’s book selection of titles that pay homage to the cultures, animals and people that make up this unique place.


We came up with too many titles to list here, but these Hawai‘i-inspired children’s books are a few of our current favorites to try at bedtime with your family tonight. World Book Day may be over, but with these local gems, every day’s a good day for a read.


SEE ALSO: 30 Hawai‘i Keiki Books to Add To Your Library


Hina by Gabrielle Ahuli‘i

Photo: Natalie Schack



By Gabrielle Ahuli‘i

This beautiful retelling of the Hawaiian legend of the moon goddess Hina features the dreamiest, blue-toned abstract art that brings the enchantment of the tale alive more than ever.



Let’s Find Koa!

By Kristi Petosa-Sigel

We love a good interactive book, especially when it’s as beautiful as this ocean adventure. Keep keiki engaged with the pull-out flaps and vibrantly colored illustrators as they try to find koa the fish—and learn marine life recognition along the way.




Mango Hill by Diana Hansen-Young

Photo: Natalie Schack


Mango Hill

by Diana Hansen-Young

You may know Diana Hansen-Young for her iconic paintings of mu‘umu‘u- and lei-clad ladies. This charming book about a few sweet, stray animals living under a mango tree seems like a far away thematic departure at first glance—but as you move through the critters’ adventure, you’ll find they’re more deeply connected to Hansen-Young’s legacy than you think.



1-2-3 Saimin in Hawai‘i

by Jamie Meckel

Local littles will love this cute little counting book that turns learning numbers into a delicious affair saimin toppings. It’s sweet, simple, and the perfect pick for reading together with your toddler—before a saimin lunch, of course.


SEE ALSO: Good Reads: Three Must-Read Island-Inspired Books for Keiki



Punky Aloha by Shar Tuiʻasoa

Photo: Courtesy of Shar Tui‘asoa


Punky Aloha

by Shar Tuiʻasoa

Local artist Tuiʻasoa’s distinctive, vibrant illustration style with a slightly psychedelic vibe, makes for a festive universe for little Punky Aloha in this cute, new little number. With her magic (and totally groovy) sunglasses, Punky embarks on the ultimate quest: finding some butter for her nana’s banana bread!


SEE ALSO: Good Reads: New Books to Add to Your Keiki’s Bookshelf


The Musubi Man

By Sandi Takayama

If you grew up in the islands, you’ll remember this childhood favorite, a twist on the little gingerbread man fable. We love the peaceful drawings and the local touches (this musubi man has limu hair, a nori jacket, takuan eyes and an ume heart) that give this one all the nostalgic feels.



Plus, April 23 to 29 is Hawai‘i Library Week as proclaimed by Gov. Josh Green M.D. Check out the books at your neighborhood library, and enjoy other events and offerings such as baby and keiki story times. Learn more in this post: What You Need to Check Out at Hawai‘i State Libraries.