I've always wanted to own a library just because I love collecting reading materials as much as I love to read. To date, I probably have more than three thousand magazines, comics, and books combined. But even that's the case, I can say that I had a healthy balance of activities I involved myself with growing up as a child and that includes playing rough. Who would've thought? Haha. But my favorite would have to be reading. That's when I started to imagine great things not just for myself, but also, for the world.

Excluding school books, the first reading material I got hooked with (until now!) was Archie. I related to Jughead the most because food! And also, a whole lot of Reggie Mantle just because he's really competitive. Go on an adventure, do well in school, and strive for success (in love and life) were just some of the lessons but the ultimate thing the comics taught me was to enjoy my childhood and have fun!

Reading (the right books) is fun and educational! May it be digital or physical, reading does wonders. I prefer the latter because of the joy of smelling the pages of a newly-opened book and it's hip. It's also a good opportunity for a parent and a child to bond.

UNICEF launches Children First! Storybooks -- a collection of six books that promote reading and inspire children's imagination. Written in Filipino and English text for children ages three and above, the books talk about the different topics such as overcoming shyness, cultivating friendships, and reaching for one's dreams. The stories are presented in colourful illustrations to fire up children's sense of curiosity and wonder.

Written and illustrated by some of the most notable Filipino writers and artists, the collection also includes the storybook Anita, the Duckling Diva written by UNICEF Celebrity Advocate for Children Anne Curtis.

Anita, the Duckling Diva tells the story of how one little duckling overcomes her shyness with the help of her family and friends.

Anita, the Duckling Diva
Story by Anne Curtis-Smith
Illustrations by James Abalos

Anita, The Duckling Diva tells the story of Anita, a young duckling whose shyness masks her amazing singing talent. The story follows Anita's struggles as she tries to gain the confidence to perform in front of a crowd at the Tabing-Ilog Singing Contest.
"I'm very happy to have written my first children's book, which I hope can help children particularly with their self-confidence and self-esteem," Curtis said. "I believe that children should be given all the emotional and moral support they need as they grow so they can express themselves with confidence and explore their full talent.

Apart from teaching important lessons to children, the books also contain a child-friendly version of the convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), as well as internet safety reminders for young people. Proceeds from the book will benefit UNICEF's programs for children in the Philippines and around the world.

Here's the rest of the Children First! Storybooks collection:

Ang Sabi ni Nanay, Ang Sabi ni Tatay
Story by Sacha Calagopi
Re-illustrated by Jamie Bauza

Rosalie dreams of becoming a traffic enforcer, while her younger brother Francis aspires to be a professional chef. Ang Sabi ni Nanay, Ang Sabi ni Tatay is a wonderful story about transcending gender stereotypes and how children should be allowed to pursue their dreams and aspirations.
Ang Dalawang Haring Siga
Story by Rene O. Villanueva
Re-illustrated by Iori Espiritu

Two macho kings Emong and Porong are locked in a bitter, lifelong rivalry that ravages their respective kingdoms. Despite the cries of reconciliation from their people, neither king buckles down. Things change when their grandchildren, innocent and free of hatred, grow up and become the best of friends. With their help, the kings learn to set aside their differences and end their senseless war.
Ang Bata sa Basket
Story by Augie Rivera
Re-illustrated by Ray Nazarene Sunga

Drawn to the sound of crying from the river, three frogs discover a basket with a baby nestled in inside. Seeing that the child is left vulnerable and alone, they choose to foster it until they find suitable adoptive parents. The frogs go on a journey of discovery where they realize that proper parenting requires more than just good intentions.
Nina Wonders, Nina Asks
Story and illustrations by Marcy Dans Lee

Nina is an observant child. Every day to and from school, Nina sees people behaving rudely and against the rules of common courtesy, such as cheating, bullying, and not following traffic signs. Nina wonders why people choose to do bad things. Reflecting the way the outside world influences the development of a child, Nina Wonders, Nina Asks gives us a thought-provoking view of everyday reality as seen through the eyes of a child.
Yaya Niya, Nanay Ko
Story by Ma. Corazon Remigio
Re-illusrated by Nicole Lim

Yaya Niya, Nanay Ko is a wistful, introspective story about a young girl who longs for the love of her mother. As a nanny, her mother takes care of Anne May leaving her daughter, the story's protagonist, in the care of her grandmother. Despite learning to take care of herself, the daughter continues to yearn for her mother's love.
The Children First! Storybooks launch was made possible through the support of SM North EDSA and SM Cares. Get the entire collection of Children First! Storybooks by donating to UNICEF. For more details on UNICEF's work and programs, visit

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything they do. Together with their partners, they work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work, please visit


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