7 Filipino Children’s Books I Want for My Child’s Library

What are your favorite children’s books?

Hi, friend! Welcome and welcome back to the blog.

From stories of kapres, engkantos, and nuno sa punso to make us unruly Pinoy kids behave, to fables that instill lifelong values, to short stories, novels, and film scripts that help us face or escape our daily realities, no one can deny the power of stories and storytelling in shaping the minds and lives of people. Societies, too, grow from stories, passed on from generation to generation, and these stories shape myths and legends that define us as a people, as a nation.

I am a staunch believer in the power of stories.

In this blog, I share some of the storybooks that I want to read to my child when she is at the right age and can understand and appreciate them.

AKO AY MAY KIKI (I Have a Vagina) written by Glenda Otis and illustrated by Beth Parrocha, is a two-part children’s book that tackle genital cleanliness and body autonomy. Filipinos do not openly talk about private parts, at least with a straight face; we love to make jokes instead. Who would expect that these will appear in fiction, let alone illustrated children’s books?

AKO AY MAY TITI (I Have a Penis) (Lampara), written by Genaro Gojo-Cruz and illustrated by Beth Parrocha, came before Ako ay May Kiki and presents genital care for boys.

As a feminist parent, I feel quite capable of talking about these to my daughter without malice. But as a school librarian, I know the power books hold on children. Once they see something on print, they will know that it is important.

PAPA’S HOUSE, MAMA’S HOUSE (Adarna House) by Jean Lee C. Patindol (writer) and Mark Salvatus (illustrator) tells the story of a broken family, and how being in a broken family does not always mean children are loved less.

My husband and I have been married for only two years, and as Roman Catholics do not see ourselves separating anytime soon. (Who knows what will happen in the future? Haha.) But once our little one grows and gets exposed in the real world, she will find family set ups that are different from ours, and she will know that she has to understand and respect that.

ISANG HARDING PAPEL (Adarna), written by Augie Rivera and illustrated by Rommel Joson, tells the story of a child whose mother was a political detainee during the years of dictatorship. The book is filled with flowers and play it is actually gut-wretching. Isang Harding Papel is part of the #NeverAgain bundle put on sale by the publishing house that ended up in red-tagging by sitting government officials last May.

My husband and I were not born yet during the Martial Law years and did not experience the documented horrors and atrocities of the period. But we know that it does not mean none of those happened. We want our child to develop empathy for people who suffered from human rights violations.

DALAWA ANG DADDY NI BILLY (Billy has Two Daddies) (Tahanan) by Michael P. De Guzman (writer) and Daniel Palma Tayona (illustrator) took a decade to be published. It shows a boy with gay fathers and the ostratization their family experiences from the people who they expected to be respectful.

Homosexuality is normal, and families that are not composed of a mother, a father, and a child are normal. I want Sprout to know that we are not judging others’ sexuality. More importantly, if someday it turns out one of us has a different sexual orientation, we as family will support them.

KUNG DALAWA KAMI (If There were Two of Us) (Adarna) by Lamberto Antonio (writer) and Salvador Gernale (illustrator) is exactly the book that made me a “bad” Catholic for supporting the many different facets of reproductive health. It is about a first-born child who remnisces the more affluent time before their parents had so many children.

I know that there will be people who will ask Sprout why she is an only child, and I want her to understand the answer from my perspective.

ANG BONGGANG-BONGGANG BATANG BEKI (The Fierce and Fabulous Boy in Pink) is a story by Rhandee Garlitos and illustrated by Tokwa Salazar. It could be the first children’s story to introduce an effeminate character, and questions why we have to assign roles and characteristics in terms of gender instead of allowing people to be who they want.

I want our child to know that in our home, she is free to be who she is and enjoy the things she wants.

My Sprout is 10 months old, and she is only interested on books to chew on. I’m definitely excited for her to be at an age when we can read these stories together, but for now, I will start building a home library that will help me raise a feminist.

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