I’m a firm believer in showering children with books because they open new worlds and educate, whether directly or indirectly. My own childhood was bookcentric. I grew up with fairytales, both Disney and European, bible stories, Aesop’s fables, Amelia Bedelia, and Blanche, the Blue-Nosed Witch. Eventually, I moved on to Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley, Sweet Dreams, and Christopher Pike.
One thing lacking in my reading education was Filipino books. The only times I would be exposed to Filipino books were in school, when we’d be required to read Filipino folktales and legends. Fortunately, there are a lot more Filipino books these days, so I’m able to play catch up. My daughter has a lot of Filipino books, too, written in Filipino, English, and sometimes with no words at all. And because the 32nd National Children’s Books Day is coming up, here’s my answer to the NCBD Blog Tour question about my favorite Filipino children’s books.
Hulyo 7-13: Paboritong Aklat
Ano ang paborito mong aklat pambata at pangkabataan? (Kailangang isinulat o iginuhit ito ng isang Pilipino. Maaari namang maglista nang higit sa isa pa.)
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July 7-13: Favorite Book
What is your favorite children and young adult book? (It should have been written or illustrated by a Filipino. Feel free to list more than one.)
My and my daughter’s favorite would have to be the board books featuring Kuting Magiting by Robert Magnuson. We love reading it together, counting the animals and identifying the colors. Her biggest favorite is Go To Sleep, Kuting! because it calls for tickle time while reading. We’ve read it so many times that I can recite it from memory.
I also love the Filipino-themed board books from Aklat Adarna. Kulay, with its brightly colored carabaos, is the first Adarna board book I bought her. You can tell by the chewed up corners. Our current favorites are Halu-halo and Kakanin! We even bring out her toy spoons while reading, so we can pretend to eat the food on the pages. Yum!
Aside from the early reader books, I have my own favorite when it comes to Young Adult and that would be Janus Silang at ang Tiyanak ng Tabon. It has a Percy Jackson-feel while being so distinctly Pinoy. It’s so current too, with TALA Online, the fictional MMORPG that Janus and friends are so addicted to. The book treats you to rich world building as it draws from mythology and history, surprising twists, and creepy scenes that are so chilling, it will make you look over your shoulder to make sure you’re really alone. (Cue scene: “Naaalala mo ba ako?”)
And last, a blast from the past, at least on my part. I’ve had my copy of Philippine Fright from Tahanan Books since I was in college and it remains a treasured favorite on my bookshelf. This middle grade reader anthology has exciting scary stories by Marivi Soliven-Blanco featuring Filipino lower mythological creatures. The scary factor is tempered just right. It’s frightening, but not to the point of nightmares. The accompanying illustrations by Reinard Santos are just as priceless. If you see a copy at your local bookstore, grab it quickly because it’s a great read for both children and adults.
These are my current favorite Filipino children’s and YA books. While these books will always be among my favorites, I wouldn’t be surprised if this list grows as more local publishers put new books out. That thought definitely makes me a happy reader.
Umuulan ng Libro! The 32nd National Children’s Books Day will be celebrated through two events. The Philippine Children’s Book Summit on July 21 at Elements Centris, EDSA, and the Children’s Book Fair on July 25 at Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University. The Librarian’s Workshop: Creative Reading Programs for School Libraries Servicing K-12 Learners will also be held on July 25. For more information about any of the above events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Philippine Board On Books For Young People Page on Facebook.