5 must-read Filipino children’s books to reconnect with your roots

Essential children’s books on Filipino culture

These award-winning books contain stories that give readers (young and old!) a glimpse into the rich Filipino culture and heritage. And they’re bilingual, too!
/ 09:20 AM July 23, 2023

Essential children’s books on Filipino culture

Photo from Getty Images on Unsplash+

How does one reconnect with a culture 8,000 miles away? And how can we show our children the vibrant heritage of the Philippines? Obvious answers would be food—a big deal in our nation of more than 7,000 islands—language, and of course, stories.

It’s always great to hear stories of actual lived experiences told from the fondest of memories. But to read and see the stories come to life on the page has also been a time-tested way of not just educating but also remembering.

If you’re wanting to instill that pride of being Filipino into your children—beyond our ube and adobo, celebrities and terno—take a cue from these award-winning books. A bonus: Most of them are bilingual, so you and your children can read in both Filipino and English.

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“What Kids Should Know…” series

Adarna Books

Essential Filipino children's books: What Kids Should Know series

Photo from Adarna House

At some point in our childhood, we may have encountered these encyclopedic little books giving us the broad strokes, “everything we need to know” about everything under the sun. Adarna House, one of the foremost authorities on children’s literature publishing in the Philippines, has produced a series of books on “What Kids Should Know” about various facets of Filipino life and culture: food, musical instruments, architecture, and visual art.

These books feature colorful illustrations and simple descriptions, explanations, and examples on the various subject matter. And though it’s geared towards children around the age of 10, it could very well serve as a great little guide for grown-up readers, too.


“Araw sa Palengke”

Adarna Books

This bilingual book shows a little girl’s trip to the market with her mother. Not only is this market trip a quintessential Filipino experience but it also mentions the various sights, people, objects, and sensations one can find on a market day. The book is written in both English and Filipino and is recommended for children around five years old. It won the 2010 Best Reads for Children award at the 1st National Children’s Book Awards.


“How Rosang Taba Won a Race”

Lampara Books

How Rosang Taba Won a Race

Photo from Lampara Books

This story won third prize in the short story for children category at the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in 2006. Set during the Spanish colonial period, it follows the story of Rosang Taba, a servant at the governor-general’s home.

It’s an inspiring story about how Rosang Taba—who represents Filipinos—was able to outsmart the arrogant Spaniard who belittled and underestimated her. Not only is it a story about overcoming obstacles or fighting for yourself but it’s also a subtle glimpse into our own people’s real history.

This book is written in both English and Filipino.

You may also like: This children’s book puts spotlight on Fil-Am labor hero Philip Vera Cruz

“From Manila with Love: A Balikbayan Story”

Tahanan Books

From Manila with Love

Photo from Tahanan Books

As the title suggests, the story revolves around a balikbayan—a little girl accompanying her mother back to Manila for the first time. It takes us through her first experiences of the Philippine capital, from its hot and humid weather to encounters with relatives and, of course, all the food. The book has a glossary and Filipino translation, too.

“Ang Munting Prinsipe”

Southern Voices Books

While not essentially a Filipino story nor is it a bilingual book, the classic “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is considered a universal must-read. For a touch of home, Southern Voices Books has translated the acclaimed novel into Filipino. Now we can experience the tale of discovery, understanding, and hope a second time over in our own beautiful mother tongue.

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