When I was a kid, my dad always took us (my sister and I) to the book fair. It was a must-go-must-do event for us because we just loved to read. It wasn’t as big as it is now. In fact, it used to be in a small brown building along Roxas Blvd. My memory could be faulty, I was only seven years old then. The first year it was held at World Trade was a big thing for me. I was beginning my journey with chapter books and there just seemed so many books under the sun.
Since I got pregnant, going to the book fair became a whole different ball game for me. I’ve started buying fewer books for myself and more for my baby. There are just so many really fun and interesting books for kids, and the book fair is my chance to go through publishers like Adarna House, Tahanan Books, Lampara, ABC Children’s Books, and Anvil Publishing to scout for good quality literature for my baby girl. This year’s Manila International Book Fair proved to be an even bigger source of books… Local children’s books at that!
With two floors of book stalls to choose from, I think I wiped out my cash and my energy from all the covers that caught my attention. I want her to learn about her Philippine culture, learn to speak Filipino, at the same time cultivate our love for reading together. Thank God for these titles!
Allow me to share my treasured finds from our very own Filipino authors and artists.
1. Kapit Bahay Kubo by Pergylene Acuña
We all know the classic kids’ song, Bahay Kubo. Kapitbahay Kubo was created to feature the other vegetables that are not in the original song, like potato, carrot, okra, munggo, malunggay, kangkong, and many more. To make things more fun, the book can be sung to the tune of the original Bahay Kubo. (Recommended for 0-4 years)
2. Malong: The Magic Cloth Story by Mary Ann Ordinario, Art by Pepot Atienza
This book is all about the Malong being a magical cloth because of the ways you can use it; as a hammock, as a table cloth, as a costume, as a baby carrier… It has many beautiful designs and is very much a part of our Philippine history. I was initially drawn to the beautiful art, but the story behind the malong made me want to have this in my daughter's book collection. (Recommended for 4-7 years)
3. A for Adobo by Nelson Agustin
This must be my daughter’s favorite of all the books I bought. It’s a great way to teach kids about the Filipino alphabet and Filipino food. A for Adobo, B for Bibingka, C for Calamansi, and so on. It’s the kind of book that will make your mouth and maybe your child’s mouth water from cover to cover. (Recommended for 6 months and up)
4. Prrt! Utot! by Ana de Borja Araneta & Krie Reyes Lopez
Another one of my daughter’s favorites, the story follows a kalabaw who ate a balut which caused his tail to twist and release a big “Prrt! Utot!” And as he shares this balut with other kalabaws, they too let out a big “Prrt! Utot!” It’s an enjoyable way for kids to be exposed to the fun side of the Filipino language, as well as teach them how sharing can result in something fun. (Recommended for 0-4 years)
5. Ibong Adarna (Aklat ng Bilang)
Florante at Laura (Aklat ng Kulay)
Noli Me Tangere (Aklat ng Hugis) by Eisen V. Bernardo
We all took up these novels by the great Filipino writers back in high school. So it was a pleasant surprise for me to see the stories incorporated into a learning book for kids. It’s a great way to teach kids how to count, learn colors and shapes in the native tongue, as well as learn a little bit about these classic Filipino stories in an attractively illustrated book. (Recommended for 1-7 years)
6. Kayang Kaya! Story by Alyssa Judith Reyes, Art by Liza Flores, Photography by Jinggo Montenejo
This book is all about empowering kids to do things on their own. The pages follow kids who wonder if they need help, parents asking kids if they need help, but kids have to learn to do things on their own. When faced with a task, “Kayang Kaya!” The book even comes with shoe laces at the back to help kids practice tying their shoe. (Recommended for 1-4 years)
7. Ay Naku! Story by Reni Roxas, Art by Sergio Bumatay III
The story follows Botbot doing his day to day duties, how he breaks a vase and worries about what his parents will think. For parents who want their kids to learn Filipino actions and expressions, this teaches everyday words like antok, tulog, linis, basag, bihis, ligpit, Ay Naku!… It’s simple enough to read to smaller kids and is accompanied by detailed artwork illustrating the words. My little girl repeats the words after me. (Recommended for 1-4 years)
These are not all that I purchase, in fact, I took an Ikea shopping bag with me to carry all my loot. What I shared with you are my daughter’s and my favorites from the pile. Please encourage your kids to read more of our local books. There are many many other books out there by really awesome Filipino writers and artists. Support local!