Essential books for kids



The new book “Let’s Get Ready” aims to teach children to prepare for storm, flood, fire and earthquake.

The book is both informative and entertaining, though I wish there are more concrete details on certain directives.

The nonstock and nonprofit Emergency Research Center, which published the book, believes that “the illiterate, poor, and the underdeveloped need not be deprived of appropriate, sustainable, self-reliant, life-saving resources, knowledge and technology.”

Part of the proceeds from sales of the book will go to research for emergency technologies for the less fortunate. Visit the center’s site at or call 7889905, 0919-6138210.

The coconut book

Quick, what is the biggest nut?  The coconut, of course.  Actually, the coconut is not a nut.  It is a seed and the biggest seed known to exist.

The word “cocos” comes from the Spanish and Portuguese coquos, which means “monkey face.”  It is a particularly apt description for the coconut. Tagalogs call the mature coconut niyog and the young,  buko. Among the Cebuanos, Ilonggos and Warays, the mature seed is lubi and the young is butong.  Coconut is kokonattsu in Japanese, yezi in Chinese and kokosnoot in Dutch.

The plethora of terms for the coconut attests to its global importance.  International research is now only confirming what Philippine coconut pioneer Dr. Conrado Dayrit told me a decade ago: “The coconut is a pharmacy in itself.  Coconut water can rehydrate the sick better than sports drinks because it has less sugar.  Coconut oil has lauric acid, which can kill bacteria and viruses.  Coconut meat has a lot of fiber.”

Dayrit promptly gave me several bottles of coconut oil, which made me feel more energetic and, unless I was mistaken, made my hair glossier.

I am glad to note that Dayrit is featured in “The Coconut Book for Kids” (Anvil, 2013).

Best suited for students in middle and early high school, the book contains coconut legends, festivals, parts, varieties, harvest methods, among others.

Written by Norma Olizon-Chikiamco and illustrated by Martin Malabanan, the book answers fascinating questions such as:  Where did the coconut really come from?  Why is the coconut called the tree of life?  What do you get when you mix a tall coconut with a dwarf coconut?

Food columnist Chikiamco also includes recipes for coconut rice, creamy dip, sugar cookies, choco bread and choco bananas in this book.

The rice book

Chikiamco and Malabanan also teamed up for “The Rice Book for Kids” (Anvil, 2013).   Rice is a food superstar, consumed by more than half the planet’s peoples.  This book answers the questions:  Where does rice grow?  What are the friends and enemies of rice?  Is rice a grain or a grass?

In loving detail, the book discusses the process of getting rice to our table, from planting, watering and feeding to harvesting, milling and refining.

Why can farmers not run or even walk briskly in a rice field?  Because of the wet and muddy soil.  Why do carabaos love to wallow in the mud?  Because they have no sweat glands.  Why is black rice called the forbidden rice?  Because in ancient China, only the emperor and his family could partake of it.

My favorite section in the book is the side-by-side nutrient comparison between white and brown rice provided by nutritionist Sanirose Orbeta, which proves that brown rice has a lot more fiber, protein and minerals like magnesium, potassium and folate than the white variety.  This should convince everyone to choose brown over white.

Among the recipes in the book are those for Java rice, champorado, biko and polvoron.

All books are available in National Book  Store.

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