Are you search for the best books about Hawaii? Here are some great recommendations — for kids, teens, and adults — from a Hawaii local.
When I go on trips, I usually don’t do a ton of book reading. And that’s pretty unfortunate. There have been a few times that I’ve coincidentally read a book or two (fiction or non-fiction) set in my destination, and I enjoyed my trip so much more! So to help you make your trip to Hawaii more enjoyable, here are 10 books about Hawaii to read before your trip over!
Books about Hawaii for Kids
Get your little ones all read up on some of Hawaii’s coolest customs before you trip.
Grandpa’s Mixed Up Luau by Tammy Paikai
First up, we have Grandpa’s Mixed Up Luau. This cute little story is about a local grandpa who is a little bit hard of hearing. That means that every time his wife asks him to get a necessary item for the luau they’ve planned, he messes up! How will the luau turn out? You’ll just have to read the book to find out!
*Bonus: learn a little bit of the local lingo while reading this story! Or if you want, I also have a post with all of the pidgin words you should know before your Hawaii trip.
Pono, The Garden Guardian by Dani Hickman and Kristi Petosa-Sigel
Pono, The Garden Guardian follows Pono, a mischievous little Menehune – sort of like a mythical Hawaiian elf – who lives in Mrs. Miyamoto’s garden and plays tricks on her. When Mrs. Miyamoto gets hurt because of one of Pono’s tricks, will the little Menehune change his ways?
Iki, The Littlest Opihi by Tammy Yee
Opihi (called “limpets” in English) are small shellfish that grasp onto the side of rocky shores. But in Iki, The Littlest Opihi, one little opihi doesn’t want to stay on the rocks. He wants to explore the ocean! Find out what little Iki ends up choosing to do!
Books about Hawaii for Teens
Looking for some YA Hawaii books? We’ve got you covered!
The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
The Descendants likely the book on this list you are most familiar with, because it was turned into a movie starring George Clooney and Shailene Woodley. Both the book and the movie tell the story of the King family – the descendants of Hawaiian royalty – through the struggles of today’s world. How will they navigate the difficult situations they encounter? And, more importantly, how will their important ancestry play a role?
The Book of Honu by Peter Bennett and Ursula Keuper-Bennett
One of the most iconic creatures of Hawaii is the honu, also known as the Hawaiian green sea turtle. Information-filled, yet understandable, The Book of Honu explains the behaviors of Hawaii’s beloved honu in depth and even gives tips for their long-term conservation.
Books about Hawaii for Adults
Written by everyone from local legends to Hawaiian kings, these books about Hawaii for adults are fantastic sources of information.
The Legends and Myths of Hawaii by David Kalakaua
Let me just say, The Legends and Myths of Hawaii is fantastic. Why? Because it was written by a literal KING of Hawaii. Yeah, you read that right. A KING OF HAWAII, Kind David Kalakaua, wrote this book on the islands’ legends and myths. Can you get any more authentic? Not really. So it’s definitely worth dropping a few bucks to learn about Hawaii’s entertaining myths and legends from the best of the best.
Pidgin to Da Max by Douglas Simonson, Pat Sasaki, and Ken Sakata
I’ve mentioned Pidgin to Da Max so many times in my past articles. It even made it onto my list of the best gifts from Hawaii! This compilation of words from Hawaii’s dialect known as Pidgin is filled with cartoons and humor. Out of all of the books on this list, this one is the book that is most likely to give you a glimpse into modern-day local culture in Hawaii.
Molokai: A Novel by Alan Brennert
Named after one of Hawaii’s smallest islands, Molokai: A Novel is a story of a young Hawaiian girl who dreams of travelling across the globe, just like her father. However, one day, she is diagnosed with leprosy and sent to the (real, still-functioning) leprosy settlement in Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai. From this fictional book, discover true facts about Molokai’s rather unknown past and present.
The Hawaii guidebook scene is a little bit lacking, but we’ve got one recommendation for you for now.
Frommer’s Hawaii 2019 by Martha Chang, Jeanne Cooper, and Shannon Wianecki
Frommer’s Hawaii 2019 covers all of the Hawaiian Islands. With everything you could want or need to know about Hawaii in 2019 – from hotels to stay at to hidden island food joints – you can’t go wrong with Frommer’s Hawaii 2019.
Do you know of any other books about Hawaii that should’ve made it onto this list? Or have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments! (I promise I’ll respond!)
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