Improving Reading And Writing Skills

By Suzanne Skjold, executive director, Hawaii Literacy

“My boss gave me the number for Hawaii Literacy, but I was ashamed to ask for help,” explains Alohilani, a mother of two from Honolulu. “I chose to get help, especially for my kids. It was hard not being able to read and write.”

Alohilani is not alone. More than 155,000 adults in Hawaii struggle to read and write – to read a story to their keiki, fill out job applications or send an email. Hawaii Literacy works to change this by providing free one-to-one tutoring with trained volunteers for adults and parents wishing to improve their reading. Hawaii Literacy also operates a Bookmobile and family literacy programs in public housing and homeless shelters that reach more than 2,200 keiki.


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An adult literacy student working with her tutor | Hawaii Literacy photo

Alohilani has been meeting weekly with her tutor Shirley for a year. “That the help was free was really important, and my tutor is awesome!” Alohilani says.

“She has helped me to read better and gives me words to teach my son. I can now help him do his homework. My son’s a great athlete, and now I can encourage him to do well in school so he can reach his dreams.”

Shirley adds, “Alohilani has more confidence now. She is starting to read her second novel! We also read children’s stories together, which she later shares with her son. It’s wonderful to see her grow into a great reader and benefit from reading.”

More than 300 volunteers like Shirley give more than 8,000 hours annually in Hawaii Literacy’s programs, and Hawaii Literacy depends on donations from people who want to increase literacy and make this kind of positive difference possible. Private foundations, generous companies like Hawaiian Electric Company, Hawaiian Telcom, Hawaii Self-Storage, Pizza Hut, T.J. Maxx and Walgreens, and many individuals support this longtime local literacy program. Each fall, Murphy’s Bar & Grill holds a fundraiser for literacy, and companies and individuals can help by purchasing tickets, sponsoring tables or donating auction items. Donations in any amount or designations to Hawaii Literacy in Aloha United Way’s Workplace Giving Campaign support this mission, or consider becoming a volunteer tutor.

If you are reading this, you can help!

To learn more, visit, email or call 537-6706.

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