I didn't get to go anywhere for National Children's Book Day this year, though my friend Michael Jude Tumamac was awarded for his PBBY entry. I had my two children to attend to this year.
I'll never forget the PBBY awarding I attended two or three years ago when my brother-in-law, Mike Falgui was awarded. My daughter was about two years old and I carried her near the stage to applaud her favorite uncle. She got down and dragged me with her to the stage, where she sang ABC until suddenly struck by stagefright, she asked me to sing with her from P onwards. For that she got an overwhelming round of applause. Little scene-stealer.
But then, what could be more fitting than a National Children's Book Day celebration centering on children? I focused on engaging my son's interest in books this year. He tends to either bite or slap books or walk away when I try to read to him, but I thought I'd try to get him interested in some new books. I had quite a success with Little Cloud and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Right now he's into rhyming books like The Great Duck and Crocodile Race.
Strangely, he's not fond of Dr. Seuss though we read him Oh, Baby The Places You'll Go! before he was born and a few months after. But looking at his preferences now, I realize it usually takes a dramatic incident and a lot of loud noises to get him interested in a book. One of the few quiet books that he likes is Toby, which has a mouse character created by Cindy Szerkes. But the colors are bright. He also pays attention to any book with a bright yellow duckling in it.
I guess my mistake was trying the usual quiet bedtime books. The lilting ditties of The Foot Book or One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish won't cut it for my little rocker who starts whining when a slow song comes on the radio. Maybe I should try The Cat in the Hat.
My daughter, I do not need to worry about, as she's quite a bookworm. She doesn't let me read to her more than a few sentences before she's grabbing the book from me. She likes both lively and soothing books, books with exciting events and books that focus on familiar characters. She constantly pores over the Geronimo Stilton Kingdom of Fantasy Book. Don't know how much she understands now, but I know she will eventually.
It takes a lot of patience to engage my son's interest in books. Among the help I've had to look after my son, I've had only one who made the effort to read to him, Meling. She was impressed with all the books I had and shelved them and piled them up neatly (unlike a later nanny who foolhardily handed my active son a paperback book to hold while she changed him, and my current one, her mother, who just dumps books lying around in the crib or toybox, including grown-up's paperbacks!). After I read to him a baby signs book with the moon, Meling reported to me that she showed him the picture of a moon on one of his blocks, and he said moon and made the sign I taught him! She was then quick to point out the moon in other books as well as stars, another sign he assiduously picked up.She gives credit to our reading to our children for making them so bright and observant and would never just plunk down in front of the TV in front of them.
Too few Filipinos recognize the importance of books. But just seeing the effects of books on children and their development may help to convince them. Which was why I was impressed that the plan my friend Suzanne Zambrano had of getting mothers of low-income children to read captured my interest. She didn't want to just set up a library that wouldn't be used. She wanted to get children to read and she felt it would help to get the mothers to read first. I hope she succeeded.
We need more engaging Filipino books. So maybe I should work a little harder to get mine published. I hope I can celebrate this week by publishing some of my children's stories online. I have so many, it's just a matter of putting them together. Look for it at the end of this week or if not, this month.
Now, having said that, I guess I have to do it!