They say it takes a village to raise a child, and in our current emotionally charged society, it asks for more than that. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced children to live most of their waking hours online, exposing them to the beauty and dangers of the internet. In an age of misinformation, turbulent social issues, and varying opinions on social media, the question begs: how can one raise a socially conscious child?
The challenge lies in finding creative ways to confront vital social issues to kids so that they can fully understand them—one of these ways is reading. In fact, a simple book can be a powerful medium to introduce social awareness to new generations. According to various studies, a book is an affordable and effective way to enhance story recall, improve child-parent interaction, and even change gender stereotypes among children.
As guardians raising children in these critical times, we've come to know just how important these are in shaping our understanding of the world. That's why we’ve rounded up our favorite activity books that introduce big ideas and social issues to help you raise young and empowered readers.
1. Safe Space: A Kid's Guide to Data Privacy
The internet has made our lives easier, but it has its caveats, too. In the vast sea of cyberspace, one can easily access information and be susceptible to data intrusion.
Safe Space: A Kid’s Guide to Data Privacy tackles the importance of protecting your personal information and the ways of doing it. In this book, Gigo Alampay breaks down the concept of data privacy in child-friendly language. The book also discusses how our online information can be in danger and shares tips for parents and kids.
Though the topic may be heavy and technical, engaging color-and-play activities and whimsical artworks by Filipino artists Liza Flores, Jamie Bauza, Abi Goy, and Frances Alvarez make the overall reading experience fun and light. Being born in the digital age where one can easily access and sign up to various online platforms, it's important for children to know their boundaries and how to protect their personal data.
Safe Space allows children to arm themselves with vital skills on how to surf the web safely, making the internet a less dangerous space for everyone. The book is designed by Studio Dialogo.
2. #YouThink: Fight Fake News
The internet is a world full of possibilities, it is undoubtedly a portal to a whole different universe. While it has provided children easy access to information to help them in school and their everyday life, it is also important to know the difference between reliable sources and fake news.
#YouThink: Fight Fake News is an activity book made for teens aged 12 and up. Designed by Studio Dialogo to look like a zine, the book explains the concept of false information and the many forms it may take—from misleading information, phishing, fake photos, to deep fakes. It also teaches readers the things people do online that can put them at risk and the various ways on how to stay safe. Experts from the fields of science, health, media, and politics also shared letters on how to fight misinformation.
To keep it a light-hearted read, #YouThink is filled with entertaining activities and playful illustrations by artists Liza Flores, Abi Goy, Frances Alvarez, and Jamie Bauza of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK).
3. I Am the Change in Climate Change
What is climate change? Why is it happening? And most importantly, what can children do to save Mother Earth?
I Am the Change in Climate Change is an informational activity book that teaches kids on how to be environmental stewards. Written by Dr. Alyssa M. Peleo-Alampay, Ph.D., and illustrated by members of Ang INK, the book unpacks the concept of climate change through child-friendly artworks, age-appropriate language, and entertaining activities that are grounded in science.
I Am the Change in Climate Change allows children to be more open and aware about climate change and how to be a part of the solution. After all, the world should always be the better version of itself for the future of our children and our children’s children.
[Get it here for P350.]
4. Karapat Dapat: Bata, alamin ang iyong karapatan!
Whoever you are, wherever you are from, you must remember that every child has the right to live, to grow, to be happy, safe, and free to fulfill their dreams.
Make use of the activity book Karapat Dapat as an introductory reading material for children to learn about their rights. The activity book presents the UN Convention on Children’s Rights in a way that children themselves can understand, complemented by fun activities and playful illustrations by the artists of Ang INK.
The book was launched in the UN headquarters in Geneva and New York in 2018. In 2020, it was cited in the White Ravens list, an annual catalogue of book recommendations in the field of international children’s and youth literature, put together by the International Youth Library.
Being a child in a big world feels daunting, and Karapat Dapat reminds kids that they have inherent rights even at a young age.
[Get it here for P300.]
5. Silent Witnesses
The nine-year military rule of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos resulted in a wave of human rights violations, and the numbers do not lie. Amnesty International reported that during the Martial Law era, there were: 107, 240 primary victims of human rights violations, 70,000 warrantless arrests, 34,000 people tortured, and 3,240 killed by the military and the police. But these days, people tend to forget the realities of the past.
Silent Witnesses (Mga Tahimik na Saksi) is a reminder of one of the darkest periods in Philippine history. The book presents affidavits from real survivors of martial law abuse, distilled into 10 three-sentence stories retold by Gigo Alampay and illustrated by Renz Baluyot.
Silent Witnesses is a reminder of a shameful and horrific past that can easily happen again if we allow our children and their children's children to forget.
Note: Silent Witnesses may contain graphic content; parental supervision is strongly recommended.
6. The Weight of Words: An Alphabet on Human Rights
The alphabet is one of the first things we learn as children. It is the foundation of reading, writing, and communication. And in introducing the concept of human rights, it’s vital that we go back to the basics.
The Weight of Words: An Alphabet on Human Rights is a picture book, cleverly illustrated in an alphabet style to let children discover the concept of human rights through letters and art. This book is a collaboration between professionals in the visual arts and graphic design industry, each of them choosing a letter or two to illustrate and explain their chosen concept.
The Weight of Words is a call to reflect on the basics of human rights, its value, and the ways on how to protect it.
Books are powerful resources of information and values. As guardians, it is up to us to choose books that can nurture our children’s minds, sense of self, values, and awareness of the things in their environment.
We invite you to raise socially aware children through art and stories. For every purchase of these books, or any books at Looking for Juan, two books will be donated to kids from the disadvantaged communities in the Philippines in support of the One Million Books for One Million Filipino Children by the Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development.