I was scrolling in this Vietnamese bilingual parenting group on Facebook the other day when I came across this beautiful quiet book about Vietnam and instantly fell in love with it. It’s called “I Love Vietnam” by Little Beans Toy Chest. They just released the book and were doing a free Đèn Ông Sao giveaway for early buyers and I knew I had to grab it for Leo - and let me tell you, I was not disappointed!
The book looks sturdy, is made of quality felt, and, according to Little Beans Toy Chest’s website, is made in Vietnam by a local social enterprise that employs women and people coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.
I later found out that the creator of the book - Hai-Anh - is a Hanoian girl like me, who happens to live in another city in Washington where I live. I contacted Hai-Anh to connect and learn more about her and her business. Hai Anh has been running Little Beans Toy Chest for a few years now. It’s a business dedicated to making beautiful, high-quality & sustainable quiet books celebrating cultures. They have books about China, Hong Kong, London, Vietnam and other places and they will be making more for other cultures as well.
The Vietnam book we have has pages about Tháp Rùa and Chợ Bến Thành - the two iconic attractions of Hanoi and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), a page about Vietnamese transportation with a car and a xe máy (motorbike), a page on Vietnamese food with Phở (Vietnamese rice noodles) and Bánh Mì, a page about Trung Thu (mid-autumn festival), and a page about Tết Holiday with peach blossom and apricot blossom trees, red envelop and bánh chưng / bánh tét (the traditional Vietnamese Lunar New Year savory rice cake). It also comes with two dolls wearing áo dài and áo bà ba (traditional Vietnamese outfits) that kids can play clothes changing with.
Like you can see, they offer the book with personalization. You can put your child’s name on the cover page like how I had it done for Leo’s book.
The pieces are sewn securely with lots of items detachable for a fun and interactive play. The back cover of the book has a pocket to store extra pieces when not used, which helps avoid losing the pieces.
We've had this book for about a month now and Leo plays with it every day. We also brought it with us to Church as a quiet toy for him, and he and a family friend's kid had a fun (quiet) time playing with the book together, which we appreciate. The sewing quality is good, and I can tell that because of how the book has survived my son's constant torturing over the past weeks. The only pieces that have fallen off of the book are letter L and E in Leo’s name on the cover. I will need to glue them back on.
I love this book because of the materials they use. It’s perfect for young children who can be not so gentle at (most) times, because they can play with the pieces for a long time without tearing the book apart. If there’s any downside, it would be that one of the pages on Leo’s book is over an inch shorter in width compared to the other pages. I’m not sure if it was a mistake in production or if it was intended. However, that doesn't affect the overall quality and experience we have while using it, so I don’t mind.
We only have Little Beans Toy Chest's Vietnam book and can only speak for that one. But I'm sure their other books are just as good. The more I talk to Hai-Anh the more I can tell how much love and passion she's put into her books and I'm sure with that dedication she only strives to bring out the best.
I highly recommend this book - and any of Little Beans Toy Chest’s books - to anyone with kids that are looking for a non-screen play experience for little ones. It's a great way to introduce your child to their heritage culture or another culture in a fun and interactive way, and it's also a great quiet toy for them to take to places like going on an airplane, waiting at the doctor's appointment, or going to church.
Hai-Anh was kind enough to offer a discount code for my readers. You can use "hellotochao10" for 10% off if you use this link to purchase.
Now, since you've read with this post until here, I do want to ask you for a favor. What do you think I should write next? Are there certain Vietnamese bilingual products or services you want my opinion on? Or other useful tips and guides that can help you teach your kids Vietnamese at home?
Let me know by leaving a comment in the comment section below, or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd really appreciate your inputs.