According to legend, Vietnam’s history began four thousand years ago when a dragon prince named Loc Long Quan married a fairy princess named Au Co. They had one hundred children, but this was too much for them to handle, so the parents agreed to separate. Au Co moved to the mountains with half of the children, and Lac Long Quan moved to the lowlands near the sea with the other fifty. Their oldest son founded the first Vietnamese kingdom.
In 111 B.C. China invaded Vietnam and ruled for almost one thousand years. Although China influenced Vietnam greatly, the ancient Viet culture was never completely destroyed. It is still evident in much of Vietnamese folklore.
From Children of the Dragon by Sherry Garland
With a country origination belief steeped in dragons and fairies, it’s not surprising that Vietnam has a rich culture of folk tales. Unfortunately, there are not many folk tale picture books in the United States that tell these stories but there are some great compilations of Vietnamese Folk Tales that I’ve included below.
How about you? Have you read any Vietnamese folk tales? What books am I missing? Thanks!
p.s. Related posts:
Exploring Vietnam through Kidlit and Culture
Ice Cubes at the Door: A Survey of Lunar New Year Traditions by Janet Wong
Vietnamese Folk Tales for Kids
Children of the Dragon: Selected Tales from Vietnam by Sherry Garland, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Use this folk tale compilation as an introduction not just to Vietnamese folk tales, but also Vietnamese history and culture. At the end of each folk tale, Garland includes notes related each of the six folk tales about how this ties into modern day Vietnam including flora and fauna, animals, and holidays. Compare The Boatman’s Flute in this book withThe Fisherman and the Goblet: A Vietnamese Folk Tale. [advanced picture book with six folktales, ages 6 and up]
The Golden Slipper: A Vietnamese Legend by
The similarities to Yeh-Shen are not surprising given that China ruled Vietnam for a thousand years. This story is also called The Brocade Slipper, and the slight deviations are a mysterious “godmother-like” figure that helps Tam, the daughter. There’s also a fish in this story, and luckily, it does not get consumed. The father in this story dies of a broken heart when he sees how poorly his daughter is treated by the second wife. The slipper is slightly different too. It is procured from the ground by the rooster that Tam treats kindly, and falls off while she’s riding on horseback to the autumn festival. A soldier finds the shoe and gives it to the prince who conducts a shoe fitting right at the event. [fairy tale picture book, ages 6 and up]