A few weeks ago, my mother chastised me for the upteenth time that I wasn’t speaking enough Vietnamese to the kids. I actually felt a little guilty about it.
I realized I needed a different way to share the Vietnamese language with Sophia and Jaxson. I spoke a bit of the language to them. We Skype weekly with my parents who speak only Vietnamese to the kids. We had watched a few DVDs.
I remember when Sophia was a year or two, I read books to her in Vietnamese. It was easy in the beginning with the baby board books. Car, house, and apple were easy to translate into Vietnamese. Then it became obvious that my Vietnamese reading skills were lacking.
The solution? Bilingual picture books. First I’d read the English part silently to myself and then figure out phonetically what it said in Vietnamese. That worked really well until Sophia wanted me to read more in depth stories and my lack of Vietnamese literacy couldn’t keep up.
Now here’s my second chance to do the same with Jaxson. I realized most of the books I purchase for Sophia didn’t quite survive her toddler years. Off to Amazon to pick out our favorites. Some of these books are out of print but can still be purchased from their 3rd party sellers. Don’t forget to check out your library system. We are very lucky that our county libraries carry books in many different languages, both bilingual and monoligual.
Here are some of my favorite Vietnamese-English bilingual picture books:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Chú sâu róm quá đói by Eric Carle is a classic children’s story. I enjoy reading this one because of all the foods. The kids can hear the Vietnamese words for their favorite fruits as well as junk food.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? or GẤU NÂU – GẤU NÂU – GẤU NHÌN THẤY GÌ DAY? by Bill Martin is my absolute favorite to read. It has predictable text and a great rhythm whether you’re reading it in English or Vietnamese. I think it sounds almost like a song in Vietnamese since the language’s tones sound lyrical to many people’s ears. This is a good picture book to learn colors and animals. I’ll also teach my kids the Vietnamese version of the sound each animals make.
Peter’s Party or Ngay tiec cua Peter is a lift the flap book that discusses tastes and textures like sour, salty, and spicy. It’s made of cardstock so it’s sturdier than paper books. Sadly, Sophia’s copy didn’t survive because she kept ripping off the flaps. There are other books in this series.
Milet Mini Picture Dictionary: English-Vietnamese is a board book so you don’t have to worry about the kids ripping it up. Though it’s not a story book, it covers everyday words like household items, some toys, and food. It’s a good, basic dictionary. Milet also publishes the same Mini Picture Dictionary in other languages such as Somali, Korean, and Portuguese.
Those are a few to get you started. I love that these books have English and Vietnamese in them. If my husband was reading the book for bedtime, he read the English version and when it was my turn, I read the Vietnamese. Sometimes Sophia would actually request that I read the story to her in Vietnamese.