By Marianne Nacanaynay, age 15
Sari-Sari Storybooks will begin releasing children’s books written in the native languages of the Philippines in the United States this September. After a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016, in June, it released its first three books in four cities in the Philippines.
Most children’s books in the Philippines are written in either English or Tagalog, the country’s only two official languages. However, there is an estimated 170 languages spoken in the Philippines that remain underrepresented.
Sari-Sari Storybooks gives a platform to those languages and also allows children to see themselves in those stories. Each book has a bilingual glossary and asks, “If you were the author, would you change any part of the story?” to encourage kids to think of themselves as authors and tell stories in their own language.
Christina Newhard first dreamed up the project five years ago in her Brooklyn home. Born in Manila, in the Philippines, Newhard moved to Florida with her family when she was 10. It was her Filipino-American, or Fil-Am, cultural background that brought her to the idea of Sari-Sari Storybooks. The books are based on cultural themes such as weaving, migration and the supernatural.
In an interview with The FilAm, Newhard asked, “When you think of the books you loved as a child, did any have Filipino heroes? . . . Did they introduce you to the quirky monsters of Philippine folklore, or teach you how to apologize to fairies?” Sari-Sari Storybooks was created out of this desire to promote language revival and cultural pride through graphic design.
“I’m making kids’ stories in different Philippine languages to strengthen our culture, and to help diversify the world of kids’ [literature],” Newhard said.
This September, Newhard will be holding launch events for Sari-Sari Storybooks in the Northeastern United States. You can also meet her on the West Coast in October and in Chicago in November. Visit Sari-Sari- Storybooks’ Kickstarter page to check for events near you. http://tiny.cc/op7kny