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Our Favourite Vietnam Resources

29 Mar

We have just finished exploring Vietnam and I wanted to share several resources that were highlights, and I would highly recommend.

Firstly, we thoroughly enjoyed “Children of the Dragon” by Sherry Garland.  It contained several traditional Vietnamese folktales; each retold in such a way that we were drawn into the story.  The language was just beautiful.  We read folktales from other sources and none were as beautiful as these.  I particularly appreciated the information that was included at the end of each story in Garland’s book.  If the story featured a water buffalo or star fruit, then there would be additional information about water buffalo and star fruit at the end of the story.

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The very first books we read about Vietnam were these two:  “The Land I Lost” and “Water Buffalo Days”.  While meant for a younger audience, we didn’t care, as they were ideal introductions into Vietnamese village life.  From these books, we learned about culture, lifestyle, agriculture, animals and a hint about the struggles within Vietnam.  So many times we would hear a reference – such as two-step snakes – and know exactly what they were talking about because of what we’d read in these two little books.  I’m so glad we read them first.

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I held off on the topic of the Vietnam war, until after we’d fallen in love with the people and culture.  I’m crafty like that.  Then we read and watched all manner of things about the conflicts in Vietnam.

“A Million Shades of Gray”, (as opposed to 50 hideous shades that is sadly popular at present), is the audio story that we listened to and is well worth mentioning. The story is set in South Vietnam towards the end of the Vietnam War, after the West had pulled out.

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One stand out resource that has to mentioned is the dvd, “Agent Orange:  A Personal Requiem”.  We only ever seem to hear about the effects of Agent Orange on the soldiers.  But this dvd takes you into the homes of Vietnamese families and their children, who are devastatingly affected by the chemicals.

It was a hard-hitting dvd but worthy, necessary viewing.  The boys watched it with us because we don’t believe in shielding them from ugliness.  We want their hearts to ache for others.

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Towards the very end of our Vietnamese studies, we read “The Happiest Refugee” by Anh Do and “Goodbye Vietnam” by Gloria Whelan.  I wouldn’t recommend “The Happiest Refugee” but in it there is a vivid description of their boat journey to Australia, which was worthy reading, with a smidge of censoring.  “Goodbye Vietnam” is a much more appropriate title for children, while still describing the hardships of those boat journeys.

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After reading about immigration, you simply must watch “I’ll Call Australia Home”.  It doesn’t feature any Vietnamese families but it outlines how difficult it is for immigrants to settle in a totally foreign country.  This dvd helped up step into the shoes of new Australians.

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Finally, we read this delightful picture book, “The Lotus Seed”.  I’d bought it early in our studies but totally forgotten about it until the very last day, which turn out to be God’s timing.  Without all of our prior knowledge about Vietnam, we would not have fully appreciated this story.  It turned out to be the perfect wrap up for our unit on Vietnam.

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And now we are on to the study of China…well, once we finish our current detour into Civil Rights.

🙂

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9 Comments

Posted by on March 29, 2015 in Geography, History, My Library

 

9 responses to “Our Favourite Vietnam Resources

  1. Sarah

    March 29, 2015 at 5:43 am

    I have ‘The Land I Lost’ and ‘A Million Shades of Gray’ (not 50!) waiting for later in the year when we do the Vietnam War, so your review was helpful. Send more! 🙂

     
    • Tracey

      March 29, 2015 at 6:08 am

      I had to alter my post to add in “A Million Shade of Gray”. I’d totally forgotten about it. Thanks for the nudge.

       
      • Sarah

        March 29, 2015 at 11:59 pm

        🙂 Which of those two books should be read first, then, to be chronological?

         
    • Tracey

      March 30, 2015 at 8:14 am

      “The Land I Lost” is the first book written but they aren’t really chronological. The second book is just more stories of the same sort.

       
  2. theeastwing

    March 29, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Oh how I have missed you! Such a timely post too, as we are about to look at Vietnam. Just this morning I pulled Anh Do’s book from the list and let Missy continue her fascination with Holocaust history by reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Although I am only a few chapters into reading The Happiest Refugee, I would be interested to know why you wouldn’t recommend it.

    Anyway, thank you as always.

     
  3. Katie

    March 29, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Oh how I have missed you!

    Such a timely post too, as we are about to look at Vietnam. Just this morning I pulled Anh Do’s book from the list and let Missy continue her fascination with Holocaust history by reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Although I am only a few chapters into reading The Happiest Refugee, I would be interested to know why you wouldn’t recommend it.

    Anyway, thank you as always.

     
    • Tracey

      March 29, 2015 at 10:32 pm

      There’s several reasons that Anh Do’s book didn’t fall into my favourite resources for Vietnam. Firstly, I felt that there was better quality literature available. It brings very little to the table quality-wise. There’s also too much swearing for my likings – okay there’s not a huge amount but it’s too much for me and totally unnecessary. There’s also a few unsavoury moments that I skipped over as I read it aloud. But ultimately, I felt that the book moved too quickly into life in Australia and that wasn’t really the focus of our studies. If I had my time over again, I would have skipped Anh Do’s book.

      So I’m not saying don’t bother reading it – it’s an interesting read (particularly the boat trip!) – I’m just saying, of all my resources, I didn’t find it the most valuable or one I would feel comfortable recommending to other families.

      🙂

       
  4. Michelle

    March 31, 2015 at 10:29 am

    I really liked The Happiest Refugee by Ahn Doh. A must read in my opinion.

     
  5. Katie Watson

    March 31, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Did you know that Baptist World Aid has an educational pamphlet (‘Get the Word Out’) about Vietnam and Laos? It is brief but an interesting contribution.

     

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