By Alma Tassi
Reading is a foundational skill that helps children make sense of the world. Their early immersion in a culture of literacy enhances the life-long joy and power of reading.
Book Trust is a national nonprofit organization that partners with schools and districts to increase student access to books and promote engaged reading. It offers schools curated, developmentally, and culturally relevant print book options for Pre-K through Grade 5 students—at no cost to families—through a collaboration with the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books.
Equity One Realty’s Gerrianne Sakamoto has been a champion, ambassador, and leader in the Book Trust Hawaii family for over 15 years. She has been a longstanding member of the Book Trust Regional Advisory Board in Hawaii, helping to guide and grow the program. Her passion and dedication to the success of children is evident whether she is in a classroom at a Book Celebration or championing the funding needed to keep Book Trust in schools.
Sakamoto works directly with Makawao Elementary and says, “I got involved some years ago as a former schoolteacher. I saw firsthand the profound effect on children that owning their books can have.” Sakamoto now focuses on encouraging others to support a school or sponsor a grade level, which can relieve the burden of annual fundraising.
Book Trust will bring more than 700,000 books to students this school year, and in just the first half of the year, over 22,000 books went to more than 4,000 students on Maui. In the wake of the Maui wildfires, Book Trust worked to ensure that the Lahaina schools and their students would be part of the program to bring some normalcy and rebuild their personal libraries. In addition, Book Trust facilitated a contribution of 3,000 books for Maui children, and together with IMUA Discovery Garden, those books were added to home libraries just before winter break.
Photo Caption: Equity One Realty’s Gerrianne Sakamoto has been a champion of Book Trust Hawaii family for more than 15 years.
“I’ve seen Book Trust transform students’ relationship with reading,” said Ellyn Mortimer, Book Trust’s Hawaii Development Officer and a resident of Maui for 30 years. “I sat with one boy as we read his new book, A Duck Called Brian. He declared it his new favorite book and couldn’t believe he could write his name in it and take it home to show his older brother. It’s those moments I know we’re creating readers, and that’s an important step to lifelong learning.”
Amanda Kayatani, a parent from Makawao Elementary agrees. "Book Trust enriched their reading habits and by reading together, strengthened our family bonds. We're grateful for the lasting impact on our children's education."
Book Trust’s annual community fundraising event in Hawaii will be on Sunday, February 25, 2024. The novel, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is the inspiration for this evening to celebrate its champions and support early literacy. For tickets, visit booktrust.org/event.
Realtor means a member of the National Association of Realtors. Do you know a Realtors Association of Maui member who should be recognized for their contributions to the community? If so, send your story idea to Alma Tassi at email@example.com.