New Series! Filipino Kids Books

Kayang Masayang Hand

Howdy folks, how are you?

I’m sure that somewhere among my Internet channels and platforms I mentioned that I’m going to be an aunt! Truthfully, it’s so weird that I get a title as if I had any input into the matter 😅 But since I am getting it, I’m going to utilize it! It takes a village, right? Not just to help out when a baby’s born but continuing raising them and protecting, not just from physical danger but other harm.

There is a lot of push nowadays for diverse books for good reason. I’d previously never read a book with a Filipino character in it. As a child, I was desperate for this and didn’t even realize it. Maybe it wouldn’t have made any difference in something like a counting book, but as I began to read on my own, one does book reports, school projects that touch upon identity. One begins the search for the people with whom they choose to surround themselves, feel safe with and develop their worldview.

This is why I’ve decided to seek out Filipino kids books to send the new family. I don’t think that “representation” is a complete solution, so I’m not just sending whatever I find straight to them. I’m going to try to get whatever I can through my local (and not-so-local) library and review them! And then send ones that I like if I can.

Filipino childrens books

Masayang Magtanim! (Happy Planting!)

This is a very cute cardboard book by Gelai Manabat that really only has 4 pages with words. It is about what a small child needs to grow their mungo beans and is in Tagalog. The publisher is Adarna House which is in the Philippines so it may be difficult to find a copy outside. I couldn’t find one online, but my dad says searching for Adarna on eBay can help.

Kayang-kaya! (You Can Do It!)

This is another cardboard Adarna House book. It is by Alyssa Judith Reyes and about kids asking themselves if they can do various things and eventually confirming oo, kaya ko na! It even has a little shoelace on the back so readers can do one of the activities the kids do in the book. I’d actually like to get this book, but again it’s hard to acquire. Characters in both books are very light-skinned especially the dad in Kayang.

Hand Over Hand

When I had the idea for this series, I didn’t set any parameters which is how I ended up with this book by Alma Fullerton whom I don’t think is Filipino. It is about a little girl overcoming notions of what girls can/can’t do, in this case: fishing. I didn’t grow up in the Philippines, so I don’t know cultural specifics. My mom has told me her dad told her to behave in such a way, but I don’t know if there’d be such a reaction for fishing.

I’m just very defensive about a white Canadian veering into “Look how backward these little brown people are!” territory. Additionally, you end up with the little girl saying things like, “posh,” but at least the author uses “Lolo.” It almost ends up being kind of patronizing like: they literally call the girl a fisherwoman like it’s a good thing. Just say fisher!

TL;DR

Title Masayang Magtanim! Kayang-Kaya! Hand Over Hand
Author Gelai Manabat Alyssa Judith Reyes Alma Fullerton
Publisher Adarna House Ardana House Second Story Press
Language Tagalog Tagalog English
Level pre-school pre-school grades 2-3
Recommended if easily accessible yes! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

for the sake of me not knowing what real reading levels are, pre-school is about ages 0-5
grades 2-3 are about ages 7 – 10

Have you read any of these or have any suggestions?

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