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Nēnē Program Recommendations

The suggestions below were sent in by librarians via the SLS listserv. Mahalo to all who wrote in and shared their program experience. Kudos to Vicki K. for asking about the program and getting the dialogue started!

If you would like to share your ideas with the 'Ohana we would love to post them on this website!

Please Email recommendations to:

Posted August 2010

Using the Nene Hopeful List to Promote Reading,
Discussions & Technology

Presenters: Virginia Koo, Maryknoll Elementary Librarian; Denise Sumida, Pearl Harbor Elementary Librarian; Michelle Colte, Hale Kula Elementary Librarian. Michelle is also the 2011 Central O'ahu District Teacher of the Year. The committee is proud of you! Congratulations


Posted January 2008

I usually buy multiple copies of each suggested title, about 2 or 3 copies, depending of the interest I think the book will generate. Voting is done individually, with each child given a ballot. I do not expect them to read a minimum number of books, but some librarians do, to provide the students with opportunities for comparison. Some of our teachers will use the books as read-alouds, so that generates additional interest. An initial "lesson" on the Nēnē Award includes pronunciation and meaning of Nēnē and its significance in Hawai'i. Sharing of previous years' winners also provides added incentive to read and vote. I emphasize the fact that it is a Children's Choice Award, with no voting done by adults (parents, teachers, or librarians). They like the idea of selecting a winner by themselves. I don't expect proof of their reading. However, some schools do.


Getting books on the Nēnē Suggested Reading List:
Purchased at the end of the school year for next year's books. (I try to get at least 3 copies of each one. I also get some money from PTSA to purchase books as well.)

Grades: 4-6

Books they need to read:
At least 5 to get their name up on the Nēnē Wall. (Sped students have to read at least 3 books off the list.)

How the Nēnē Program works:
To start the program off, I make sure the books have a special shelf in the library for those Nēnē Suggested Reading Books and I try to have all books on the list read before the school year begins. I started putting different colored tape for the reading level for each book because there were some books on this year's list that I think some 4th graders shouldn't be reading. The colored tape is just as a guideline, but any student is able to borrow any book. It's up to them. (It's more for me when parents come in and ask why this book has this or that.)

I begin by doing a Nēnē orientation for the students in grades 4-6 and explain the requirements and how the program works. I also share my goal of having ALL students in grades 4-6 of getting their name on the wall, and something crazy I will do if this goal is reached. (I go with ALL because the students here really like reading & participate heavily in the Nēnē Reading Program.)

The next 2-3 library sessions I booktalk as many of the Nēnē Suggested Books.

In order to get their name on the Nēnē Wall they need to do the following:

1. Read at least 5 books off the list. (3 for Sped students.)
2. Take the Accelerated Reader (AR) test for 4 books, and complete 1 project off the list. OR if they don't pass the AR test with 80% or above, they need to complete a project for that book not passed. The 5th book read needs to be a project. All projects are turned-in to me and I display they in the library. I give students certificates for completing and meeting the criteria for each book. (For those students who have read certain books on the list that have been on the list for some years, a project needs to be completed because AR tests can only be taken once and I'm not going to reset each student's AR test history.)
3. After they have completed the AR tests and/or projects, they bring ALL 5 items to me. I go through them and then they get to fill out their Nēnē Certificate to be put on the Nēnē wall. I also give each student one of the Nēnē Ribbons (from the Nēnē website) while they fill out their certificate. (On each certificate, I have numbers by 5s and I circle and put stickers for the amount of books read.)
4. In March, all students with their name on the wall get an invitation to a Nēnē Voting Party in the library. It is at this time where they get to bring their school or home lunch to the library talk to each other about their favorite Nēnē book and vote. The book that gets the most votes from the students is announced and I send up all student votes to the Nēnē committee.
5. Depending on my budget, I plan to take those students with their name on the wall to the awards ceremony.
6. starts all over again.


I try to get all the books on the list. I get multiple copies (paperbacks, if available) of the ones that seem to be popular. I set a minimum of 5 books in order for them to vote. I put up a chart (honor system) and they put up a sticker after reading the book. I tell them that I will spot check and if anyone is found to have not read a book completely, s/he will be disqualified from my contest. I will be giving a prize to a student from each class who has read the most books from the list. If a book is not on the list but is nominated and fits the criteria, the book is added to the chart and the child can campaign for the book to get others to read it, too.


Do you buy all the recommended books? Yes, I buy one copy of each

How do you do the voting? Do they have to read a certain number of books? 4? 5? more? less? In March I allow students who have read at least one of the books on the recommended list to vote

And the kids can recommend books to be considered for next year too, right? How do you do that? Is there a form? There is a committee for the suggested reading list that looks through all the nominations and reads the books recommended from librarians and students. Last year they sent out an email to the listserv in January but I can check on that for you for this year.

I actually have been on the website but there isn't too much guidance as to HOW to run the program, so I am asking the pros!
To run the program I have a sticker chart where the students can record how they rate each book. The student needs to do a short review for me and I ask them a question about the book to make sure they really read the whole thing. (I've read all the of the books so I can tell if they've read it) At the end of the year I give prizes to the students at each grade level who have read the most Nēnē hopeful books. I've also heard of librarians who have book clubs who read the books, crossword puzzles based on the titles of the books, and jeopardy type games based on the descriptions of the books. Let me know if you need more details, I can put you in contact with the appropriate members of the Nēnē Committee. (note: email the committee:


Our school participates. Since we have a small enrollment, and only 4th, 5th, and 6th graders vote, I have them read at the minimum two books before voting. The ballot is given to them when voting time comes, show the Nēnē official list on the overhead and have them cast their ballots, then send it in to Honolulu.

It was quite slow at the start to catch on, but as the years go by, more and more students are excited to share the (reading experience) nominees with their classmates. I begin talking about the nominees at the beginning of the school year Sept/Oct, have a special shelf with the nominee list and indications of which titles we have.

I try to buy 75% of the titles, about one copy of each, and if more money is available, duplicates of popular nominees. Since some of the nominees are repeats you can build on that. I used to buy them in paperback, but am now buying in hardcovers to help build the fiction section. I don't know about other librarians, but it is hard to gauge the reading tastes year to year, thus difficult to predict what fiction titles will be popular.

Most of the info you are requesting is on the website ( Click on Librarians and Teachers on the right side. Click on Booklist nomination guidelines (there is how-to and e-mail to me). The link Voting Instructions tells how, when, and includes a copy of the ballot. Hopefully you can find what you need here. This is a voluntary program, however, I have a separate Nēnē section in our library and anywhere from 2+ copies of all the books on our list. Students who read 10 books get a ribbon (these can be ordered from the web site) and every year I have at least one or 2 students who read all of them.
I get my books from everywhere (Barnes & Noble) and others.
Call Sherman Tom--Rep for perma-bound--they have a list of all Nēnē nominees 395-9300. His e-mail is The list is also available from Follett TitleWave.

Posted January 2008


If you would like to share your ideas with the 'Ohana we would love to post them on this website!

Please Email recommendations to: