Special editions of UNICEF Children First! Storybooks take parents and children on a social-emotional learning journey

Featuring exclusive parenting guides and interactive activities that make learning fun and engaging for both parents and children

23 August 2023
UNICEF Philippines/2023

MANILA, 23 August 2023 — UNICEF Philippines today launched special editions of its Children First! Storybooks, which are designed to foster a love of reading among children. The new editions are accompanied by parenting guides to aid the development of vital skills crucial for children’s social and emotional well-being.

The Children First! Storybooks 2023 Special Edition is available via subscription starting at P995 per month via https://donate.unicef.ph. Donations through this campaign will help save and improve the lives of the most vulnerable children in the Philippines and worldwide by ensuring they have access to their basic rights in health and nutrition, education, water, sanitation, hygiene, and emergency protection and support.

First introduced in 2016, the six Children First! books are written and illustrated by notable Filipino writers and artists, including UNICEF National Ambassador Anne Curtis. The books feature engaging, and remarkable tales crafted to spark children’s imaginations while conveying invaluable life lessons.

This year, UNICEF Philippines has collaborated with child education specialists Ani Almario and Charla Santiago-Saamong to develop exclusive parenting guides to accompany the Children First! storybooks for their 2023 Special Edition. Ani Almario is the school director and co-founder of The Raya School, a progressive K-12 institution in Quezon City, as well as the vice president of product development at Adarna House, a children's books publishing firm. Santiago-Saamong is a faculty member of the Department of Family Life and Child Development at UP College of Home Economics with 14 years of teaching experience who has worked with government and private institutions on projects related to children and families.

Together, they developed guides to aid parents and their children in exploring different aspects of social and emotional learning (SEL). SEL is a process whereby children learn to make decisions responsibly, understand their own emotions, empathize with others, address conflicts, tackle daily challenges, and navigate the world around them.

“Social and emotional learning is a lifelong process—not a race,” said Almario. “Thus, it’s important for parents to embark on this journey with their children with intentionality to help them become braver individuals. I encourage parents to dedicate quality time to read the storybooks with their children and explore the narratives together while creating a safe space for questions and emotional processing.”

Written in Filipino and English for children aged three and above, the six storybooks cover various life lessons, including overcoming shyness, establishing healthy friendships, and pursuing one’s dreams. Here are the titles:

  • Anita, the Duckling Diva by Anne Curtis tells the story of how a duckling overcomes her shyness with the help of her family and friends​.
  • Ang Sabi Ni Nanay, Ang Sabi Ni Tatay by Sacha Calagopi talks about transcending gender stereotypes and how children should be allowed to pursue their dreams and aspirations.​
  • Ang Dalawang Haring Siga by Rene O. Villanueva teaches children how to set aside differences and promote peace.
  • Ang Bata Sa Basket by Augie Rivera teaches parents that proper parenting requires responsibility beyond good intentions.
  • Nina Wonders, Nina Asks by Marcy Dans Lee captures reality through the lens of a child. ​
  • Yaya Niya, Nanay Ko by Ma. Corazon Remigio tells the story of a young girl who longs for the affection of her mother, who is the babysitter of another child.

Each storybook comes with a parenting guide that delves into an aspect of social and emotional learning relevant to the featured narrative. For example, in Anita, the Duckling Diva, Anita finds herself struggling with stage fright, fearing her audience might laugh at her. But with her mother’s support, she gains confidence and overcomes her difficult emotions. Emotions such as fear, stress, and disappointment can be overwhelming for kids. Parents can co-regulate these emotions with their children through some practical strategies, such as encouraging them to talk about their experience, helping them label their emotions, and reminding them that most emotions are fleeting in nature.

Aside from their enriching narratives and exclusive parenting guides, the storybooks also come with interactive activities and sticker packs to make reading and learning more fun and engaging for children.

“Through the Children First! Storybooks, we want to provide parents with tools and resources that support their children’s social and emotional development while helping vulnerable children at the same time,” said Susanna Snyman, Chief of Private Fundraising and Partnerships for UNICEF Philippines.

The Children First! Storybooks 2023 Special Edition is available on donate.unicef.ph. Subscribe now and receive one book per month for six months, alongside the exclusive parenting guides and activities.


Media contacts

Marge Francia
Advocacy & Communication Specialist
UNICEF Philippines
Tel: +63 917 858 9447


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we 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 for children in the Philippines, visit www.unicef.ph.

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