All About Vietnam -- Book Review & More!


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

May is Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage Month. All month long I will try to share books, crafts, and activities to help celebrate this fun heritage. Today I get to share the newest book from one of my favorite series about Asian countries. It is All About Vietnam: Projects & Activities for Kids: Learn About Vietnamese Culture with Stories, Songs, Crafts & Games by Tran Thi Minh Phuoc and illustrated by Nguyen Thi Hop and Nguyen Dong. It is a middle grades reading level but can be shared with younger kids if you do the reading!

From the Publisher:
Children will get an inside look at Vietnam's vibrant culture, while learning through fun, hands-on games, songs, and activities! This multicultural children's book is perfect for story time at home or in a classroom, and is one children will come back to time and again.

Young readers are introduced to many different aspects of Vietnamese culture, including:
  • A brief look at the nation's history, from its mythological beginnings to its famous kings and heroes
  • Tours of picturesque Halong Bay, the teeming streets of Hanoi and Saigon, the sand dunes of Mui Ne, the Dragon Bridge in Da Nang, the imperial palace in Hue, and many more colorful places!
  • Try your hand at making authentic Vietnamese dishes including a Banh Mi sandwich, Fresh Spring Rolls and Moon Cakes to accompany the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration
  • Re-live popular folktales and legends like "The Legend of the Areca Nut and the Betel Leaves" and "The Legend of Trong Com"
  • Learn the beloved folk song "The Rice Drum" and the lively dance that accompanies it
  • Experience the sights and sounds of the Tet New Year's celebration as well as other colorful festivals like the Feast of the Wandering Souls, the Mooncake Festival, the Kitchen God Festival, and the Hoi An Lantern Festival
  • Learn to speak a few words of Vietnamese, including greetings and the proper way to say goodbye
  • Make a beaded dragonfly; learn about Vietnamese manners and superstitions; celebrate birthdays, weddings, and important events; and taste the local fruits and delicious street food dishes!
Award-winning author Phuoc Thi Minh Tran is a Vietnamese librarian and storyteller who opens windows onto a culture she knows intimately in this lavishly-illustrated book. The charming full-color illustrations and photographs bring Vietnam's history and culture vividly to life.

From Me:

I love how this book shares about the Vietnamese culture, language and history through stories, kids' lives, crafts, recipes and more. The books in this series always start with an introduction to some real kids. This one has three ranging in age from 10 to 12. Each live in different parts of Vietnam and one is actually in the United States. The kids will help share the information throughout the book. You can see Hai Du'o'ng in the sample page below. 

This book shares the creation legend of Vietnam as well as magical creatures, information about the land and about the language. It also gives a brief history of Vietnam. The Vietnamese have their own animal zodiac. It is similar to the Chinese animal zodiac but has a few differences. They have a buffalo, cat, and a goat instead of an ox, rabbit, and a sheep that the Chinese have. To go with the Vietnamese zodiac is a dragon puppet craft. The book shares a link to get printable dragon parts--both in color and in black and white to be colored. I printed the ones in color already and made my own dragon puppet.

The book shares some of the special things about different parts of Vietnam. It has beautiful photographs from all over Vietnam. 

It also shares the food from the different parts. It includes three recipes in throughout the book. This weekend I tried the recipe for banh mi sandwiches. I put the cilantro in a dish since I know Steve hates it and Hazel only likes it sometimes. I however thought it made the sandwich!

 There are also pages about food without recipes too!

The book also shares about some of the holidays in Vietnam. Tet or the new year is the most important festival in Vietnam. There are many traditions and symbols that go with Tet. Some are similar to other Asian cultures like the lucky red money envelopes and firecrackers. In Vietnam it is the apricot flowers that are seen all around. There is also a unicorn dance versus the dragon dance. The book shares games, greetings, superstitions and more about Tet. There is even a play in the book with the suggestion of making puppet characters. (I wish they gave some printables for the characters, but they did not.) Besides Tet the book shares other celebrations like birthdays, weddings and more. 

This book is packed full with the culture of Vietnam and provides songs, language, crafts, stories, games, and recipes to give the reader a good idea of what life is like in Vietnam. There is information about the mythical and the actual animals. One common animal is the dragonfly. There is a tutorial to make a dragonfly craft with the link to the printable wings.

The book also shares some of the Vietnamese customs and etiquette. Many of the American customs would be seen as disrespectful in Vietnam so it is good to know. It also goes into some of the fashion in Vietnam and the uses of the palm leaf hat. The final craft I made, which also has a printable at the link, is to make a jumping fish. It goes with a famous legend. 

There is also a craft to make a lotus flower. It does not have printables but is very easy since you just need some rectangles of two colors. I used origami paper and the suggested size rectangles (3" x 1.5") I would definitely make them larger next time! It requires a rubberband and pipe cleaner as well!

The book shares so much about the culture and the country. I hope you will check it out. Be sure to check out the other books in the series they include ones about:

Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!