WHERE THE LOVE OF READING BEGINS
Tahanan Books Celebrates 30 Years of Raising Generations of Young Filipino Readers
by Meg Roxas
For many Filipinos who’ve built their lives in Europe—especially those wanting to stay in touch with their ethnic roots—children’s books may well be the bridge to keep them anchored to a cultural identity they only hear about or witness in their parents. Most libraries and community programs are also creating more spaces for multicultural representation to welcome this growing demand.
This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of Tahanan Books, a Manila-based publisher of quality books for Filipino families, schools, and libraries. Since 1992, Tahanan has been delighting families with books that celebrate Filipino culture and history. Named for the Filipino word for “home,” Tahanan’s flagship company is “Ilaw ng Tahanan,” named for the gentle phrase symbolizing “mother” (the light and life of the Filipino home).
A 14-time winner of the National Book Award for the Children’s Literature, Tahanan showcases a diverse pub list of over 150 titles spanning biographies of heroes, folktale anthologies, science and history titles, storybooks for youngsters, and a popular line of Pinoy pop culture gift books. “There is something on the list for everyone,” says Reni Roxas, Tahanan’s founding publisher and editor-in-chief. “My hope is each book will resonate with a Filipino child, wherever he or she may be.”
PICTURE BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
A favorite among families, From Manila With Love: A Balikbayan Story tells the story of a young girl who accompanies her Filipina mother to Manila for the first time. When Amy Luna Capelle wrote her manuscript, it was out of frustration for the lack of books about the Philippines that she can share with her son. The story tenderly captures the incomparable joy of the homecoming experience.
Two titles that teach Filipino words in a fresh and creative way are Reni’s read-aloud books Méme: The Baby Book and Ay, Naku!. Auri Asuncion Yambao’s award-winning language books explore the playful characteristics of language in Takbo: Kapag Naging Tinig Ang Tunog, Saya/Saya: A Book of Homonyns, and Sari-Sari: A Book of Double Words.
SHARING THE GIFT OF FILIPINO MUSIC
Nothing enchants a child like the joy of a well-loved folk song. From cooking pinakbet in Ilocano, catching river crabs in Cebu, to learning kulintang music in Maguindanao—these slim books are curated by musicology expert Dr. Felicidad A. Prudente and feature regional customs and traditions that showcase the diversity of the islands.
Filipinos are known around the world for their love of music. Before children learn to read, they first learn to sing. After nearly three decades since publishing Bahay Kubo to wide acclaim, Tahanan Books offers a collection of folksong picture books that are sure to enthrall music-loving of Filipino families.
ADVENTURES IN HISTORY
Ties between the Philippines and Europe spans over 500 years as in Reni and Marc Singer’s First Around the Globe: The Story of Enrique. The picture book was inspired by historian Carlos Quirino’s bold supposition that the first man to circumnavigate the globe, a Portugese explorer’s slave, was Cebuano.
In Gabriela Dans Lee’s Cely’s Crocodile: The Art and Story of Araceli Limcaco Dans, readers discover how young Araceli used her artistic skill to support the guerilla movement during World War II.
For older readers, Tahanan’s wildly popular and award-winning Halo-Halo Histories series are must-reads for lovers of history.
In 1992 Tahanan released its first selection of titles. Thirty years later, it continues to produce titles that celebrate Philippine life and culture.
2022: BEYOND NATIVE SHORES
As Tahanan enters its third decade, Reni is excited about expanding its footprint. Last year, it established franchised distributorships in Canada and Australia. “We are actively seeking distributors in Europe, where there are large communities of Filipinos. Most of our distributors are working-from-home Pinay moms who believe in the value of keeping their children strongly rooted in their native language and culture.”
Speaking of children, the highest compliment Reni received during her 40-year publishing career was given to her by a Pinoy dad, who said: “My children grew up with Tahanan Books.”
Although for Reni every Tahanan book is special, a perennial favorite is Hermes Alegre’s Bahay Kubo (1993), which just had its eleventh printing in 2022. “The song epitomizes everything good about our country: its bountiful natural resources and its talented people,” Reni says. “Sometimes we forget how lucky we really are, and that, for a change, there’s a lot to be thankful for in being Filipino.”
Reni Roxas, publisher and editor-in-chief, (second from L), with her Tahanan Books staff
For inquiries or interest to be a Tahanan distributor, reach out to Meg through email@example.com or follow @tahananbooks on social media.