Move over, JK Rowling! Meet the mom who writes & illustrates stories for Filipino kids

Alexandra Romualdez Broekman is on a mission to tell tales for and about Filipinos. Philippines’ MANILA Since she can remember, Alexandra Romualdez Broekman has been a writer.

She used to fold and bind pieces of paper together as a child and write her own stories. She had an invitation to have her poetry included in an anthology when she was just 11 years old, but she ultimately declined since she was self-conscious about her writing. A handful of her poems were published in newsletters at that time. In high school, she and Sabrina, her childhood best friend, collaborated on writing chapter novels.

Let’s say that writing has been a part of my life for a long time. As an illustration,” she said in an email interview with Rappler.

But it wasn’t until the end of 2020 that she decided to continue writing, publishing children’s books under her imprint, Kado Publishing.

“It was a difficult decision to make. I worked as a marketer for Google for more than six years while experiencing postpartum depression, burnout, etc. She stated that the seed of the idea for Kado Publishing was planted because I wanted to return to the fundamentals and the things I love.

When Alex started writing stories, he had to fold and staple pieces of paper. As of this writing, Kado Publishing has published over 20 books, including a tale of a corgi who guides a lost young girl home, a rhyme about Filipino Christmas, and Noche Buena, a bilingual book about a saved Philippine Hawk-Eagle, a rhyming tale about various family types, and a series of books on “fantastic Filipinas” – women who have made significant contributions to Philippine history.

Many of these books are written and illustrated by Alex, who explained that choosing what to write about involves a particular gut instinct in addition to passing three tests:

“Are there many things like this already? Do you think I would have enjoyed reading this as a child? She asked, “Is this the kind of book I want my kids to have on their shelves?” She is also able to put her novels to the test because she is a mother of two young children: “reading it with my kids and seeing if they like it!”

Alex described the response to her novels as “very positive.”

Most individuals, including children, have expressed that they appreciate the historical tales, cultural anecdotes, and sense of representation they get from seeing the Philippines, Filipinos, and even words and culture front and center, she said.
Indeed, Alex’s books give young readers fresh viewpoints in a world where Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, and J.K. Rowling still hold sway. It’s a unique chance for Filipino children to see images of themselves and their life on paper.
For their readers, Kado Publishing has more Filipino stories in store.

“We intend to release a Fantastic Filipinos-focused sequel to our Fantastic Filipinas series. Additionally, we are eager to incorporate stories from various cultures (such as indigenous ones), naturally with genuine representation from those people. Keep a watch out for more in that collection; currently, we have Fiestas and Myths and Legends. We are also in the process of expanding our seek-and-find series.

Regarding themes, she claimed that there was nothing she wouldn’t write about or publish.

“Never say never, I believe! This publishing company and my own “children’s book authoring” career are still very much in their infancy. I am picking up a lot from the other publishers, writers, and artists around me about the market, trending subjects, and more,” she claimed.

There is so much knowledge and so many stories that should be shared. I believe that with time, experience, and discernment, we will better understand what we want (or don’t want) to generate.
The main obstacle for Kado Publishing as a small, independently owned and operated publishing firm is growing.

She noted that most funds, exposure, and other resources still go to white and British and American publishers, writers, producers, and books.

She said that there hadn’t been much mainstream success for colored characters.

“White characters are still regarded as the relatable standard’ even after generations of people have consumed ‘popular media.'” According to her, a brown lead in a story that refers to Southeast Asian cultures and traditions is still viewed as a “niche.” Therefore, despite our popularity among Filipinos and the Filipino diaspora, it is challenging to enter the broad market.

Alex is still optimistic that the landscape of children’s literature is evolving as she tells tales.

In light of how diverse and globalized modern life is becoming, she stated, “I do think things are changing over time, and with that comes a lot of hope in a future where kids of all hues read and see stories about other kids of all colors, and find joy in learning from one another.”

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