Filipino books

Pagkabansa at pagbabasa: 6 storybooks for kids this Independence Day

Janssen Lu
Pagkabansa at pagbabasa: 6 storybooks for kids this Independence Day

Adarna House website

These storybooks are perfect introductions for children in learning the roots of why we celebrate Independence Day

A famous writer, doctor, and national hero once said, “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan (The youth is the hope of our country).” The iconic words of Dr. Jose Rizal have gone on to inspire writers over a century later in taking the nationalistic sentiments imbued in our country’s history, and embedding them in stories to tell our nation’s children.

Education is often regarded as the key to success, and the first lessons we receive as children are through the stories we read. They often come from storybooks where vibrant characters and peculiar plots capture our attention, leaving us mindful of the gravity of an issue.

One of the crucial things the children of today should learn is the rich history that depicts our countrymen’s compassion for both their nation and fellow Filipinos.

This Independence Day, turn pages with this list of children’s books that look back at our nation’s past and aim to shape our country’s future.

Si Diwayen, Noong Bago Dumating ang mga Espanyol’

Si Diwayen, Noong Bago Dumating ang mga Espanyol, the first book in the “Seryeng Batang Historyador” (Young Historian Series) by Augie Rivera, introduces children to five crucial points in our country’s precolonial history.  

Centering on a datu’s daughter and her alipin, the story looks into our early Filipino ancestors’ traditions and beliefs and the rich culture of our country. Paolo Lim perfectly illustrates what Philippine society was like back then, with vivid visual representations of tribes’ practices.

Si Diwayen, Noong Bago Dumating ang mga Espanyol is available at Adarna House.

Si Segunda, Noong Panahon ng mga Espanyol’

Segunda’s tale takes us back to the Spanish colonial period, when Christianity started to play a larger role in society. She yearns to learn how to count and read like Felipe, but her parents do not want her to take classes outside of catechism.

Through Isabel Roxas’ illustrations and Augie Rivera’s words, children can get a sense of Philippine life under colonial rule that reserved education for a privileged fraction of society. Ultimately, Segunda’s story shows how friendship can be one of the sources for lessons even outside the traditional classroom, as she and Felipe teach each other a few things.

Si Segunda, Noong Panahon ng mga Espanyol is available at Adarna House.

‘Si Pitong, Noong Panahon ng mga Hapon’

Moving has not always been easy for everyone, and this book by Augie Rivera proves it. Set during the Japanese invasion, little Pitong suddenly finds himself leaving his beloved home in Tarlac to find safety with his family in Malabon. However, he soon finds out why his family has to search for another place to stay when Pitong encounters the Japanese soldiers.  

It might have been the briefest occupation in Philippine history, but the impact of the Japanese invasion on countless Filipino families is not one to be undermined. Si Pitong, Noong Panahon ng mga Hapon proves that point by narrating the experiences of Filipinos during the oppression, and Marcus Nada’s illustrations guide us into how confusing the situation was for children.

Si Pitong, Noong Panahon ng mga Hapon is available at Adarna House.

‘Isang Harding Papel’

Just as its title suggests, Isang Harding Papel is about the collection of paper flowers of a young girl named Jenny, but the reason behind her garden is a sign of the times during the Martial Law period. Jenny receives flowers made out of newspaper for each week she visits her mother in prison and collects them until Jenny could finally welcome her home.

Augie Rivera’s book shows how activists were convicted for criticizing the government and how these instances affected their families. But it does not fall short of providing kids with hope, as Rommel Joson’s heartwarming artwork offers sweet moments between Jenny and her mother throughout the pages.

Isang Harding Papel is available at Adarna House.

Si Jhun-Jhun, Noong Bago Ideklara ang Batas Militar’

Augie Rivera’s Si Jhun-Jhun, Noong Bago Ideklara ang Batas Militar is a story about one of the organized public demonstrations leading up to Martial Law as seen through the innocent eyes of Jhun-Jhun. The plot is accompanied by Brian Vallesteros’ illustrations that emotionally unfold the events.

What started as mere curiosity as to why his brother spends less and less time with him ends up being a turning point in Jhun-Jhun’s life.  

Si Jhun-Jhun, Noong Bago Ideklara ang Batas Militar is available at Adarna House.

‘Himagsikang 1896’

This nonfiction storybook by National Artist Virgilio S. Almario recounts the Philippine Revolution of 1896, and narrates the growing sense of autonomy many Filipinos were fighting for then.

Accompanied by the artwork of Nina Martinez and Asa Montenejo, Himagsikang 1896 brings in additional research about one of the most important parts of Philippine history, making it a must-read for our country’s children on the roots of its independence.

Himagsikang 1896 is available at Adarna House.

From the precolonial Philippines to its modern-day history, these stories are perfect companions for children to celebrate Independence Day and for them to learn precisely why we commemorate it. –

Janssen is a Digital Communications intern at Rappler and a Communication student at the Ateneo de Manila University. When he’s not busy overthinking about everything, he enjoys binge-watching shows on Netflix and getting as many naps as he can.