Thursday, February 7, 2019

Review - My First Book of Tagalog Words

My First Book of Tagalog Words
by Liana Romulo
illustrated by Jaime Laurel
Date: 2006
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 28
Format: e-book
Source: library

My First Book of Tagalog Words is a beautifully illustrated book that introduces young children to Filipino language and culture through everyday words.

The words profiled in this book are all commonly used in the Filipino language and are both informative and fun for English-speaking children to learn. The goals of My First Book of Tagalog Words are multiple: to familiarize children with the sounds and structure of the Tagalog language; to introduce core elements of Filipino culture; to illustrate the ways in which languages differ in their treatment of everyday sounds; and to show how, through cultural importation, a single word can be shared between languages.

Both teachers and parents will welcome the book's cultural references and appreciate how the book is organized in a familiar ABC structure. With the help of this book, we hope more children (and adults) will soon be a part of the 22 million people worldwide that speak Tagalog!

(synopsis from Goodreads)

One of my best friends in high school was Filipino, and she often spoke Tagalog at home with her family, switching effortlessly back and forth between that and English. I wasn't familiar with Tagalog at all before I met her, never even having heard of it. When I went looking for foreign-language e-picture books at the library, this was the only one that popped up. (I'm kind of appalled that a Canadian public library has zero French e-picture books, but I digress.)

This is a nice little introduction to some Tagalog words, done in the format of a rhyming alphabet book. While it's supposed to be aimed at preschoolers, I question that due to some of the vocabulary in English: approval, miniature, comforts, snugly, overlooking, monument, therefore, timepiece, schedule, grateful, renowned, tenderness. I'm all for teaching kids new words, but some of those are going to be difficult to explain to preschoolers! (I'm not sure if I could even explain in words what "therefore" means.)

The main issue with this book is that it really needs to be read more than once. Because of the limitation of using an alphabet format, some of the words are out of sequence. (For example, the little sister is playing with her toy unicorn a page before she's born and her brother gives it to her as a gift. In another instance, the word yaya is mentioned with no explanation; you don't find out what it means until you get to the Y page.) If you're going to be reading this book to kids multiple times, these things won't be a problem. But if you are reading the book aloud, you're going to run into another issue: the pages for X and Z have words that are pronounced similarly to (or the same as) the English versions but spelled differently... so the child will only see there's a difference if they're actually looking at the words.

Overall, this is a good idea for a children's book. I kind of wish there was a whole series of these featuring different languages.

Quotable moment:

N is for naku!
Just like "oh, no!" you'd exclaim
if you broke something precious
or lost in a game.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 3.57 out of 5


  1. Hi! There actually IS an entire series of books like this.