3 Filipino Educational and Multicultural Picture Books

Filipino multicultural picture books | Multicultural Kid Blogs

As a mother to a multilingual family of three kids and six languages, I enjoy finding picture books to read with my kids in any language that covers the basics like colors, numbers, shapes, and the alphabet. Jocelyn Francisco’s three Filipino multicultural picture books entitled “Abakada,” “Oh My Kulay,” and “Isa Dalwa Tatlo…Ito ay obalo” are multicultural and educational.

The books highlight Filipino culture and language and are ideal for babies and kids up to 5 years old. When we read multilingual and multicultural books, we try to make connections between the words of a language we don’t know to the languages that we do know.

Jocelyn Francisco, the author, is a mom and a professional who inspires children to explore and notice the world around them, and to appreciate their own cultural identity. Her books introduce little ones to the Filipino culture and language with vibrant colorful images that children can then relate to their own home and culture.

Reading to kids has many benefits such as expanding their vocabulary by teaching new words, helping to stimulate their brain, and building emotional awareness related to the story. Reading also lets a child experience another culture and learn about how the world works somewhere else.  It lets them go on an adventure without leaving the house by taking a journey.

These books encourage and inspire my kids and me to learn about the names of objects in our language as well as the language we are reading about. For example, in “Oh My Kulay,” we talk about the names of the fruits and vegetables in English. We then compare them to those mentioned in the book in Tagalog. We enjoy making the connection that most of the fruits and vegetables are probably ones that the author found in her home country of the Philippines and that we could find them in France as well.

Filipino multicultural picture books | Multicultural Kid Blogs
Photo Courtesy of Jocelyn Francisco

“Abakada” is a picture book that relates the letters of the Filipino alphabet to animal names. However, the alphabet has been changed many times throughout the past couple of centuries. In pre-colonial times, there were four sets of letters. Spanish missionaries then came and introduced the Latin alphabet with Spanish.

A system was developed in the early 20th century. This system was used from 1940 to 1976 and had 20 letters. The current alphabet includes 8 letters from the Spanish alphabet. This book uses the original Filipino alphabet system from the mid-1950s.

I like how the illustrator incorporated all of the alphabet words into one image. To keep children more attentive, especially young ones, you can try saying an animal name and have them imitate the animal and its sound. As an extension activity, children can learn animal sounds in Tagalog.

My kids’ favorite letter from the book is P, P is for pusa (cat), pagong (turtle), and pato (duck). To continue on the journey, children can also make their own alphabet books. They can use the same animals found in the book and see if there are similarities in spelling and pronunciation.

Filipino Multicultural picture books | Multicultural Kid Blogs
Photo Courtesy of Jocelyn Francisco

“Isa Dalwa Tatlo…Ito ay obalo” is about the numbers and shapes in Tagalog. The colors coordinate for each shape and number. Also, each shape is represented across the page with what looks like stamp designs. You can use this book as an extension activity by stamping designs similar to the ones found in the book.

Each of these Filipino multicultural picture books acknowledges a specific person. They also include a personal quote that relates to the book. These little nuances make us appreciate the book even more. For example, in the book “Oh My kulay!” the author acknowledges “To Willliam Jones, You put so much color inside my world.” This book is about colors and the illustrations are very colorful and vibrant.

Each one of her books at the end has an activity that reviews the vocabulary learned on the previous pages. These books serve little ones with basic vocabulary words.  However, adults can also use these if they’re looking to learn a few new words for their own language study. All of these books would make a great addition to a multilingual or multicultural bookshelf at the library or at home!

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Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.  

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board:

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Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

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Adrienne is an American living in France with her Turkish husband and three kids. She is a strong advocate for multi-language learning from a young age and enjoys encouraging others to learn new languages at any age. She shares learning activities and writes about raising multilingual (6 languages between us) and multicultural kids, expat living and travel on her blog, The Multilingual Home. She loves connecting with readers on Facebook and Instagram.

1 thought on “3 Filipino Educational and Multicultural Picture Books”

  1. These picture books are so cute! I love that they teach Tagalog as well! Thanks so much for your support of Multicultural Children’s Book Day from the very beginning and for highlighting this wonderful series. There are not enough Filipino books for kids being published so it’s great to highlight this well done series.

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