Books to Celebrate Filipino American History Month


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Did you know October is Filipino American History Month? Filipino Americans are the second largest Asian American group in the nation. They are third largest ethnic group in California (after Latinos and Blacks). October was chosen because it commemorates the first Filipino to step foot on the continental United States. On October 18, 1587, Luzones Indios came ashore at what is now Morro Bay, California, from Nuestro Senora de Esperanza, a Spanish galleon. In 2009 the United States Congress recognized October as Filipino American History Month. (Source) To celebrate I thought we would look at some books about the Philippines and their culture. 

To learn about an Asian country one of my first places to check is Tuttle Publishing's All About Series. I have reviewed almost all of the first editions but they have updated them. Today we are sharing the newest edition of All About the Philippines by Gidget Roceles Jimenez and illustrated by Corazon Dandan-Albano. This book introduces us to three cousins who have different skin colors, characteristics, religions, languages, and lifestyles. They also live in different parts of the Philippines. These three kids are our tour guides. 

The three of them provide a good mix of what the Philippines population is like. It is a mixture of Malayo-Polynesians, Chinese, South Asian, and Arab as well as people who stayed from the Spanish and American explorers and soldiers. Since the Philippines is a country made up of islands there is quite a bit of diversity in it. Next the book gives a bit of history of the country. It includes the different types of ships that came from different parts like the Arab Dhows which also brought Arab missionaries that married local women and spread Islam. Then there was Ferdinand Magellan. Someone we often learn about in school. The Spanish followed him and brought Christianity to the Philippines. In 1556 the Philippines were ruled by Spain.  In 1898 the United States attacked and took control of the country. The Americans taught them English and started developing the land and imposing democratic authority. During World War II Japan invaded and took control. In 1945 General Douglas MacArthur brought an end to the conflict. The Philippines became independent in 1946. This is just highlights of the history shared. 

The book then talks about the land and its location. It leads us to the natural disasters that occur there. There are at least five earthquakes happening in different parts of the Philippines every day!! The book talks about what causes this and the science behind it. 

Next comes the animals and how their habitats are being destroyed. We still have science lessons as well as environmental activism lessons in this book. 

In the summer the cousins travel with their families together to some of the other islands. They like to explore and learn about the places and traditions. In this part they share a bit about the sights of the Philippines. Then there is the creation of the islands legend. Then the book deals with the multiple languages of the country as well as some of the cultural things like the Jeepneys and dancing. 

Then each of the kids life is examined. First a look at where each of them lives and then what a typical day looks like for each one. Then the games they play are shared. Oh, and here is one of the exciting things!! I get to share the games with you since Tuttle shared them with me and gave me permission. There is even a craft to play one of the games in this section. 

Next the book talks about holidays. It includes a simple parol craft. I tried the craft when I reviewed the first edition.

After the religious holidays are the non-secular celebrations and what the fiesta table looks like. The kids share their favorite foods from the fiesta table. There are even recipes at the end of the section to try one of each kids favorite foods. The book ends with a bit about the wedding traditions in the Philippines. This book is amazing for teaching kids about the culture and a country. It includes history, science, social studies, language and more in a fun way. It is recommended for ages 8 to 12 but I know Hazel enjoyed them well before she was 8. 

 To learn even more about the celebrations, holidays and festivals we look at our next book, Filipino Celebrations by Liana Romulo and illustrated by Corazon Dandan-Albano. This book begins with a bit about the country and its history and includes a bit about the Indigenous people and their traditions. Then it gets into a favorite celebration for many--birthdays. It includes birthday traditions, food, song, and games. Did you know a seventh birthday is an important milestone in the Philippines? It marks the start of middle childhood. At age eighteen girls have a debut. There is a page about the traditions that go along with it. 

Next comes Holy Week and the different celebrations and traditions that vary by the islands. I shared a bit about this when I did a post on Easter in the Philippines.  After Holy Week the book discusses the town festivals. Each Christian town has a patron saint which dictates when the town festivals are held. There is also a bit about the country and its climate. The book goes through many different smaller holidays. It also provides craft tutorials and recipes to truly get a feel for the holidays. One of the festivals I found most interesting is the Feast of the Black Nazarene. It happens on the 9th of January in Quiapo, Manila. It honors the dark-skinned statue of Jesus Christ. The statue was carved in Mexico and brought to the Philippines in 1606. 

After the Christian holidays comes the Philippine historical festivals. Soon on the Camiguin Island they will be celebrating the Lanzones Festival. It occurs in the third week of October. They celebrate the lanzones fruit with a four day thanksgiving festival. They also discuss what are typical fiesta activities. Beauty pageants seem to happen a lot in the Philippines. 

The book has recipes and crafts throughout it to add the experience of learning about the culture. It talks about weddings and baptisms as well as the town festivals and more. There is also information about the Muslim holidays and festivals. Then there are the New Year traditions as well as the Chinese New Year traditions. 

This book is suggested for ages 5 to 10. It is pretty easy to read and has lots of short bits of information about the different festivals. It is perfect for learning more about the culture of the Philippines.

Our next book is My First Book of Tagalog Words by Liana Romulo and illustrated by Jaime Laurel. This book is an alphabet book. It goes from a to z sharing Tagalog words. Tagalog is the official language of the Philippines and is also known as Filipino. I find the books in this series teach so much culture and about the life from the country even though they are "language" books. This book is recommended for ages 3 to 8 year-olds. It rhymes and introduces different words in the language but also gives a bit about the thing.

The pictures are fun and colorful. The words are short and easy to read. It is a great introduction to the Tagalog language in a fun way but also to the culture. The reader learns about animals, food, family, transportation and more. 

As you can see from the sample pages there is so much more than learning the word in a different language. Tuttle has a series of these books that I love! They also have more books and products to help teach Tagalog to different ages including adults. 

Our final book is a book of fables, myths and fairy tales from the Philippines. This type of book was Hazel's favorite when we looked at other cultures when she was young. Now she likes to read the tween and teen versions of traditional fairy tales with new twists. However she use to treasure books like this one, Filipino Children's Favorite Stories retold by Liana Romulo and illustrated by Joanne de Leon. This book shares thirteen Filipino stories. Some are to explain why something happens like a mosquito buzzing in your ear. All of them have lessons in them including taking care of nature. And of course some are just fun. 

The pages are clear and easy to read. The words are relatively simple to read. There are illustrations throughout the stories.

I know I always find reading the tales from a culture really give me a sense of culture and what it is like to live there. This book provides that and more. I also love reading the various tales from other cultures. In my Fairy Tales in Different Cultures Series I shared a Cinderella tale from the Philippines

So as you look to learn more about the Filipino culture to celebrate Filipino American Month, be sure to check out these books as well as my other posts about the Philippines. Tuttle also has more books on the country and culture. And they shared a Filipino recipe for Avocado Toast with Dried Hibe Shrimp from Pulutan! Filipino Bar Bites, Appetizers and Street Eats by Marvin Gapultos to celebrate Filipino American Month with you!