National Children’s Book Day (NCBD) is every third Tuesday of July to commemorate the anniversary of the publication of Jose Rizal’s illustrated version of the folk tale “The Monkey and the Turtle,” which many consider the dawn of Filipino children’s and young adult literature. Throughout the month of July and throughout the country, readers celebrate Filipino literary works written specifically for the young.
Cotabato Literary Journal celebrates with this special issue that gives a peek into the growing children’s and young adult literature scene in SOCCSKSARGEN.
There’s poetry (“Ang Buaya sa Marsh” by high school student Marianne Hazzale J. Bullos and “Nabasa” by performance poet Alvin Pomperada) and short fiction (“War Makes Me Sad” by award-winning writer and publisher Mary Ann Ordinario), an essay (“The Confrontation” by poet and literature graduate student Andrea D. Lim) and an excerpt from a novel (“Anito Files” by freelance writer and entrepreneur Boon Kristoffer Lauw)—all showing the youthful perspective and distillation of language that entertain and resonate with readers of all ages. The works, which I selected from a dozen submissions, try to get to the very heart and soul of young people’s different experiences.
I am very, very excited about the future of children’s and young adult literature in the region. The recently concluded first Aklat Alamid YA Novel Writing Workshop, co-facilitated by Cotabato Literary Journal’s editor Jude Ortega and myself, proved that writers in the region respect children’s and young adult literature and are serious about honing their craft. I am looking forward to reading the novels they conceptualized during the workshop. I am also looking forward to the following events this month: a talk on reading advocacy by book reviewer and seller KB Meniado, a storytelling session in Kabacan, Cotabato Province, and two contests on writing short stories for young children and teens.
Books are mirrors and young readers in SOCCSKSARGEN deserve to see themselves in stories. When they can connect to the characters, settings, and experiences in stories they have deeper, richer, and more meaningful reading experiences.
Books are windows (or sliding glass doors) and young readers outside our region deserve to learn more about SOCCSKSARGEN beyond the usual stereotypes and assumptions.
Happy reading and Happy National Children’s Book Day!