Besides playing peek-a-boo and singing along, one of the first interactive activities a parent gets to enjoy with her baby or toddler is reading. Not only is it a wonderful bonding activity, it can also lay the foundations for numerous skills in your child, including communication skills, socio-emotional skills, and an improved vocabulary. Books, indeed are your best friend if you're a new parent.
Speaking of vocabulary, teaching your child to speak the native language may be more colorful in the Philippines, given that we are a country of more than 7,000 islands with about 8 major dialects (and a handful of minor ones) on top of the Filipino language.
While most children's books here are written in Filipino or English, or both, an international organization hopes to make reading a more dialect-enriching experience through its First Read project.
"First Read aims to help develop early literacy and numeracy skills in children 0 to 5 years old through books that are published in the mother tongue," Riel S. Andaluz, Save the Children's Senior Manager for Corporate Partnerships, told SmartParenting.com.ph.
Some of these titles are: Magtaguanay Ta (Cebuano), Pagbilagan (Ilokano), Ulod-ulod (Ilonggo), Sya Ka, Magab'das Ta (Maguindanaoan), Balay Kalerekanan (Tagakaolo), Tay Klehew I Smalaf (Blaan), and Yom Lem Hulu (Tboli). These include English or Filipino translations as well.
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"Adults who live in provinces where these dialects are the mother tongue would not have seen books like these when they were kids. All they had were English or Tagalog, or—especially those belonging to indigenous communities—none at all," she added.
They do publish books in Tagalog too, such as Sino siya? and Tik-Tak.
Aside from introducing the kids early to their roots, reading together the First Read book series also helps the parents develop the skill of storytelling.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues and we are all staying home to prevent the spread of the virus, Save the Children makes it possible for parents to get a copy of these books online so they can read to their children.
You may download PDF copies of these children's books in different Filipino dialects by clicking here. They are available to download for free only until May 31, 2020.