I’m a Filipino-American and when my first child was born in 2010, I spent countless hours searching the library and the Internet for Tagalog children’s books to read to him. I didn’t find much back then, but fast-forward to 2018 and the Filipino children’s book genre is steadily growing! It’s expanding so much that I decided to start this blog, Read Filipino.
Now to be more specific, I grew up in the Midwest, in city of Chicago. It has a significant Filipino population, but it doesn’t have the critical mass that California and the West Coast has. In fact, Jollibee and Seafood City, well-known Filipino brands, didn’t open locations in Chicago until 2017! So the lack of Filipino reading material wasn’t surprising. When I asked relatives to bring books from the Philippines, I received books with Tagalog vocabulary that was unfamiliar because I had only ever heard Tagalog spoken. The language in books was different from conversational language. So the search continued.
In the meantime, I kept hearing from 2nd and 3rd generation Filipino-Americans how they wished they had learned their parents’ language. Many of them were starting to have their own children and wanted to teach them Tagalog, Bisaya, or Ilokano but they weren’t fluent themselves. Most of them barely understood their parents’ language, and most were too embarrassed to speak the language. That’s when the idea for Read Filipino was born.
The mission of Read Filipino is to empower parents to incorporate Filipino language and culture into daily family life. Reading children’s books is a natural part of family life, so I just needed to find all the books that would fit in with our mission. After that, it just kind of snowballed and I got connected with several amazing Filipino-American authors writing bilingual stories, and here we are on launch day!
Over the next few months, Read Filipino will be featuring vocabulary in Tagalog, Bisaya, and Ilokano. You will see the written word and hear the pronunciation. Then we’ll host a monthly giveaway for a FREE bilingual book that features the vocabulary we have been learning. Our goal is to get you comfortable enough to speak a few words and then take the next step of reading a book to your child(ren).
I hope you will join us in preserving Filipino language and culture for the future generations. So please sign-up for our newsletter to get the latest news on Filipino books, language, and culture! Your Lola (Grandma) will thank you for it!