As a father of three children, one of my favorite things to do for my kids, is read books to them before they go to sleep. I have a five year old boy, daughters who are eight and eleven. They get to see me animated when I read to them. My voice changes for each character in the book. My face and arms act to the scenes to bring pictures to life. Needless to say, I can entertain, simply by reading a book to them.
Books can have a significant cultural importance as well. Having been born and raised from the Philippines, I am saddened to say, I do not have any children books to share with my kids regarding our culture and heritage. I am glad to find out that, this is all about to change. Thanks to Christina Newhard of Sari-Sari Storybooks, who is down to the wire on raising her first Kickstarter campaign (November 1st deadline).
She not only wants to share Filipino culture through modern children's books in a positive way, but she also wants to translate them in various native languages. You see, the Philippines has over 180 different dialects and most books are written in just a handful of the top ones. Christina wants to change that and preserve these dying languages.
Well, that can be quite a challenge. I interviewed Christina today, and here are some of the questions and answers we would like to share with you on how you can help her make this wonderful venture happen.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Whois Christina Newhard?
I'm a Filipina-American graphicdesigner, based in Brooklyn. I was born in and spent my childhood in Manila,and then lived in Florida through college before moving to New York. I've beenworking in the design industry for 20 years, a good chunk of that time asSenior Designer at Columbia Creative (Columbia University's in-house design andcommunications office), and now run my own design consultancy, Newhard DesignLLC.
Howdid this desire to tell stories from the Philippines get started?
I wanted to use my skillset to dosomething positive for the Philippines, to push back against the devaluing ofFilipino culture that makes us invisible in the world. Being a designer, beingfamiliar with printing, and thinking about how best to effect social change ...making children's books was the idea that stuck with me. Given that thePhilippine publishing industry is robust and already produces a lot ofbeautiful children's books, that led me to make this series more niche, and tocreate stories in languages other than Tagalog and English.
Whatare some of the challenges did you have to face to get here today, and forseein the near future?
I think the usual things projectcreators deal with: a whole lot of anxiety and doubt. Figuring out funding isalways a hurdle. This Kickstarter is really helping boost the project pastthose initial challenges.
Future challenges will include figuringout how to distribute and market these stories in a sustained and organized wayover time, how to get them into public libraries, etc. Problem-solving is a basicpart of the design process, and I feel very strongly about seeing this projectthrough to sustainability.
Whydo you think this is project is important?
Cultural self-esteemis the root for social change. What sort of message does it send to childrenwhen they never see their language in a story they grow up reading? Or forchildren here in the States, to never see a hero in a book that looks likethem? Do they feel empowered when they grow up?
Whyis it important for a people to know these stories?
Cultural self-esteem matters, butchildren's stories are especially beautiful and fun to make. That's importantin itself— creating beautiful stories that make children think.
Asa fan of movies, I feel like all the stories have been told, do you think ourstories can tell a new story that's never been heard before?
Definitely! The worldneeds a story about a vegetarian manananggal, no?
Whatis your biggest BHAG for this project? Where do you see this going in the nextyear, the next five years?
The next year will be devoted tolaunching the project, as a whole. That means publishing the first 3 books(Ivatan, Cebuano, Chavacano), marketing them, holding book events, submitting themto reviewers, and connecting with librarians, teachers, and community partnersto bring these stories into children's lives.
In the next five years, there are books4, 5, and 6 to be illustrated, printed, and published as well (the Waray,Meranaw, and Aeta stories). I suspect the project will further evolve at it'sown pace, but we'll see what happens.
Tellus a story, an example if you will, of what Filipino children and parents can discover and expect from this.
Just knowing that the Philippines is oneof the world's most language-diverse countries, home to 181+ languages, alreadyshifts how people see the Philippines. Most people are very surprised to knowthis.
Tellus about the campaign, that we don't know or you haven't shared just yet. Howcan we help?
Donating to the Kickstarter before November 1 isof course the most direct way to help. If you are someone who can support at the Angel Donor level, that wouldmean more books donated to libraries in the Philippines (we currently have 750books earmarked for our Philippine partners, I'd like to make it 1,000 books,if one more Angel Donor steps forward).
If you are a teacher or librarian, or if you'dwant to be a book advocate when these are published, please reach out to me(firstname.lastname@example.org). A network of supporters that can help getthese books into libraries and schools, and would want to read them at a localstory hour or family time event ... that would be invaluable in the future.