Happy October, and welcome to Greentrike’s monthly Playful Guide! Each month, we’ll highlight some important happenings in the community, curate educational reading lists based on the month’s theme, and possibly even create some fun activity guides!

Our monthly Playful Guides are also a place where we acknowledge important Recognition and Cultural Heritage Months, which are also recognized during Play to Learn sessions across Pierce County. When we celebrate heritage, we create a welcoming environment and develop an appreciation for the many cultures that make up our community!

October is recognized as both Filipino American History Month and Italian American Heritage Month. During this period, we can take the time to learn about the rich history and contributions of both Filipino Americans and Italian Americans in the United States.

History and Heritage

What is the difference between history and heritage?

According to Dr. Dawn Mabalon, “History is inclusive of heritage and culture, but it’s also about the ways we have built and changed this nation…whereas heritage is more limited to what we pass down in terms of culture, tradition, and legacies.”

Dr. Mabalon was a historian and community leader, whose work included the documentation of the rich history of Filipino Americans. She also wrote the book Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong, which is in our book list for this month, to help teach children about this important historical figure!

Early Childhood Education Philosophies

Did you know that some early childhood teaching philosophies have their origins in Italy?

The Reggio-Emilia Approach to learning was founded in the late nineteenth century by community members and former educators in the wake of World War II in order to redesign early childhood education as a student-centered curriculum that views children as inquisitive, capable, compassionate, creative, authentic, and leaders. This is the approach embraced by Greentrike’s Preschool Powered by Play!

The Montessori Method also comes from Italy. This philosophy also involves a child’s natural interests rather than formal teaching. This method of childhood education was designed by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician. Interested in learning more about this historical figure? She’s also the subject of one of the picture books in our list!

Did you know?

The celebration of Filipino-American History Month in October commemorates the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the continental United States, which occurred on October 18, 1587, when “Luzones Indios” or native Filipino sailors conscripted into the Spanish navy as laborers during the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade, came ashore and landed at what is now Morro Bay, California. Learn more about the origin of this month’s national recognition at the Filipino American National Historical Society.

Picture Books for Filipino American History Month

Below are some picture books that can help to enrich children’s understanding of heritage, identity, and acceptance. Consider checking them out from your local library!

Maria Orosa Freedom Fighter: Scientist and Inventor from the Philippines Cover Art

Maria Orosa: Freedom Fighter, Scientist and Inventor from the Philippines

by Norma Olizon-Chikiamco

This delightful children’s book follows the life of Maria Orosa–a pioneering woman scientist who studied food science in the United States then returned to a war-torn Philippines and created super-nutritious foods to help her nation in a time of crisis.

Did you know that Maria Orosa studied at the University of Washington?

Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong Cover Art

Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong

by Dawn B. Mabalon, PhD and Gayle Romasanta

This book suitable for children and adults tells the story of labor leader and co-founder of the United Farm Workers Larry Itliong’s lifelong fight for a farm workers union, and the birth of one of the most significant American social movements of all time, the farmworker’s struggle, and its most enduring union, the United Farm Workers.

When Lola Visits Cover Art

When Lola Visits

by Michelle Sterling

For one young girl, summer is the season of no school, of days spent at the pool, and of picking golden limes off the trees. But summer doesn’t start until her lola—her grandmother from the Philippines—comes for her annual visit. Summer is special. For her lola fills the house with the aroma of mango jam, funny stories of baking mishaps, and her quiet sweet singing in Tagalog. And in turn, her granddaughter brings Lola to the beach, to view fireworks at the park, and to catch fish at their lake.

Cora Cooks Pancit Cover Art

Cora Cooks Pancit

by Lazo Gilmore and Dorina K.

Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs like licking the spoon. One day, however, when her older sisters and brother head out, Cora finally gets the chance to be Mama’s assistant chef. And of all the delicious Filipino dishes that dance through Cora’s head, she and Mama decide to make pancit, her favorite noodle dish.

Picture Books for Italian American Heritage Month

Papa Piccolo Cover Art

Papa Piccolo

by Carol Talley

The lion is the emblem of Venice, but the common cat rules its narrow streets and alleyways. A prince among these feline rulers is Piccolo, and what a fine life he leads! Especially after dark- when the streets are full of possibilities! Then one night, Piccolo makes a discovery that threatens his carefree life and his independence and starts him on a new and special kind of adventure.

All the Way to America Cover Art

All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel

by Dan Yaccarino

Dan Yaccarino’s great-grandfather arrived at Ellis Island with a small shovel and his parents’ good advice: “Work hard, but remember to enjoy life, and never forget your family.” With simple text and warm, colorful illustrations, Yaccarino recounts how the little shovel was passed down through four generations of this Italian-American family—along with the good advice.

A Picnic in October Cover Art

A Picnic in October

by Eve Bunting

Tony thinks it’s silly to go all the way to Liberty Island for a birthday picnic. But that’s before he understands what the Statue of Liberty means to Grandma.

Maria Montessori Cover Art

Maria Montessori

by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Maria grew up in Italy at a time when girls didn’t receive an equal education to boys. But Maria’s mother was supportive of her dreams, and Maria went on to study medicine. She later became an early childhood expert—founding schools with her revolutionary educational theories and changing the lives of many children.

Further Reading

Looking for more books? The Tacoma Public Library, Puyallup Library, and Pierce County Libraries all have tons of picture book recommendations, many of which are available to be checked out and enjoyed!