Multilingual students publish short story collection “Rising from Our Roots”

Jesselle Ann Morales

“Rising From Our Roots” is a collection of stories written by multilingual students at Waipahu High School. 

The book is made up of two parts. “Our Roots” contains adapted folktales and fables from the students’ home countries, while “Branching Out” features students’ personal accounts of adjusting to life in Hawaii after immigrating from the Philippines, the Marshall Islands, Chuuk, Samoa, and Tonga. The stories are written in English and include some translations from the students’ first languages. 

Bringing the book to life was a year-long journey made possible with the support of the Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant and publisher Bess Press. Waipahu High School teachers Chloe Maeshiro, Lori Murakami, Jiamin Ruan, Jennifer Sagucio, and Yvonne Calvan led students in collaborating and revising multiple drafts, while Leeward District Bilingual School-Home Assistants shared folktales, myths, and legends from their home countries. 

The students were also inspired through visits from local authors Lee Cataluna, Michelle Cruz Skinner, Patsy Iwasaki, Keao NeSmith, and Lee Tonouchi, as well as artist Solomon Enos. Bilingual author Elizabeth Jiménez Salinas also provided professional development for the teachers, contributed to the revision process, and provided insights on publishing.

The students look forward to a book launch event, a book tour involving reading “Rising from Our Roots” at elementary and intermediate schools, and writing even more. Learn more and read the book on their website.