Beyond the Books at Hawaii’s Public Libraries

a young girl reading in the library

by Stephanie Lopes

Need free, fun activities that ignite the imaginations of your children and help them learn? Kids, and their parents, have plenty of options – not just books – at Hawaii’s public libraries, either online, which is always open, or at their neighborhood library.

State Librarian Stacey A. Aldrich wants parents to know about the wide range of engaging and helpful materials offered by the Hawaii State Public Library System. “Our keiki are naturally curious, and a library card opens the door to an array of free entertainment and educational tools to keep your children engaged and learning, no matter what their interests,” Aldrich says.

young girl using a tablet to learn
Hawaii’s virtual library is always open.

Does your child want to learn to play a musical instrument? Check out an ukulele at any one of our public libraries and then take an online music lesson using ArtistWorks, which also offers other lessons for popular string and band instruments from master musicians.

Need kid-friendly videos to help pass the time? Find a streaming video collection of animated storybooks, family-friendly movies and popular children’s programs when you explore Kanopy Kids.

Is your child learning to read and wanting to practice? A read-along feature in BookFlix is fun and helps children strengthen their literacy skills.

No time to get to the library for books? Not to worry. You can download free, popular ebooks and audiobooks that you can read online or download to your mobile device using the Libby app. Listening to stories can make commuting time something to look forward to!

Want to make sure learning isn’t lost during school breaks? There are over 25,000 skills and activity sheets, mini-books, educational crafts and more for students from Pre-K to Grade 8 on our website. Look for Scholastic Teachables.

Or maybe your family would like to learn a language to connect with elders or relatives living in other countries. The free Mango Languages app is a great place to start.

Parents will find plenty to enrich their lives, too, at the library. Looking for quick and tasty meal menus and recipes? Browse the Food & Drinks magazines in PressReader. And there are plenty of magazines on family life in the Parenting & Family section. You can also get news and book reviews from The New York Times Digital Edition.

“Hawaii’s public libraries serve everyone, and we have special services free of charge for readers who qualify as being vision or print disabled,” Aldrich adds. “If your child has a physical or reading disability that prevents their use of regular print materials, we have a great collection of books and magazines in audio, braille and large print formats. And we also loan out the audiobook player.” Find more information about the Library for the Blind and Print Disabled on the HSPLS website.

Explore Expanded In-person Services at Your Local Library

Many libraries offer popular Story Time programing for children that feature themed stories, rhymes, songs, and a simple craft. Visit your library’s branch page for more information.

With free wi-fi, computers, printers and copiers, students have all the tools they need to read and study in their local library; and reference librarians are on hand to help with their research.

It’s easier than ever to access the library. “Explore the library’s in-person and digital offerings at our website,,” Aldrich explains. “We welcome you and your keiki through the physical and virtual doors of our library system, and all you need is a Hawaii public library card.

Easy Sign Up for a Library Card

It is fast and easy to get a library card! Apply online today and you can immediately download online ebooks, audio books, magazines and streaming movies. After you apply online, you will have 45 days to visit your favorite library branch to get your library card and activate full library privileges. Please be sure to bring an ID and proof of your mailing address when you visit the library.

Anyone can get a library card, and it is free to Hawaii residents, military personnel, and their dependents. There is a small fee to get a library card for out-of-state residents. Children under 18 can receive a library card if parents co-sign their application.

Seven Tips to Help Your Keiki Read More

Foster your child’s love of reading with the following tips, provided by Hawaii State Librarian Stacey A. Aldrich:

  1. Let children pick their own books. Kids are more likely to read books they like. Do they like animals, robots, or plants? Giving children choice in their book selection can allow them to explore their curiosities.
  2. Check out graphic novels. Many children love the illustrations and graphic novels are available at a variety of reading levels.
  3. Be a reader yourself! Pick up a book and your child will follow your example.
  4. Read aloud as a family. Reading aloud and sharing stories is a wonderful family time activity.
  5. Make reading part of your routine. Read at breakfast, bath time, bed time, or listen to a book while in the car or riding the bus.
  6. Introduce your kids early to the public library and open a world of possibilities that are always available to them.
  7. Ask your local librarian for recommendations! We’re here to inspire curiosity and help your family read, learn and connect. Ask us!
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