Happy Lunar New Year! Did you know that Lunar New Year is celebrated by many Asian countries, including Vietnam, China, and South Korea? It begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and lasts for 15 days.
Some people call this holiday Chinese New Year. But this term does not represent the variety of countries that celebrate the Lunar New Year. So it’s more accurate to use Lunar New Year when describing this holiday.
Before this year, it was difficult to find books that use the preferable term of Lunar New Year but many new books have been published in the last year, which is wonderful!
Here are my favorite books to share with children to teach and celebrate Lunar New Year.
Good Children’s Books to Read for Lunar New Year
Dragon Noodle Party by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by Paula Pang
Each animal of the zodiac calendar travels up the hill with one ingredient for a special noodle dish. Snake brings nothing because it’s his birthday–the Year of the Snake. Simple, clear text and beautiful illustrations.
Gordon & Li Li Celebrate Chinese New Year by Michele Wong McSween, illustrated by Jeannie Chen
This colorful board book gives you a vocabulary word related to Lunar New Year and shows Panda cousins in the illustrations. Each word is written in English, Mandarin, and Pinyin and includes the phonetic pronunciations. In addition, there’s a definition explaining how the word relates to the holiday.
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
Gorgeous, color-filled artwork and simple text narrate the story of a girl and her family getting ready for the New Year. Ba-Ba hangs poems, Ma-Ma makes dumplings, Jie-Jie sweeps the house. When it’s time to celebrate, there will be fireworks, lanterns, lion dancers, and a dragon parade.
Friends are Friends Forever by Dane Liu, illustrated by Lynn Scurfield
When Dandan moves to America, making a new friend makes life and learning a language easier. Dandan invites her new friend to celebrate Lunar New Year at her house, just like she used to in China with her best friend there. The new friends eat special food and make red paper ornaments together in a celebration of friendship.
Playing with Lanterns by Wang Yage, illustrated by Zhu Chengliang
In the snowy cold, on the third day of New Year, the uncles give lanterns. Zhao Di brings her lantern outside with her friends and admires the other beautiful lanterns. She feels sad to smash her lantern on the fifteenth day, but that prevents bad luck, but then she feels hope and excitement for next year’s New Year.
A Sweet New Year for Ren by Michelle Sterling, illustrated by Dung Ho
Ren wants to help her parents cook for Lunar New Year, but they tell her she’s too little. When her big brother Charlie comes home, he shows her how to roll out the dough for pineapple cakes. Then the family and their extended family and friends gather to celebrate with delicious foods, including pineapple cakes.
Grumpy New Year by Katrina Moore, illustrated by Xindi Yan
Daisy flies to China to celebrate Lunar New Year with her grandpa, her Yeh-Yeh. When she gets there, she’s grumpy about all the fun things her Yeh-Yeh plans like flying kites and singing karaoke, and riding boats, and she can’t figure out why. Also a countdown from 10 days away from the start of Lunar New Year, this story explores what happens when we don’t sleep (grumpiness) and unconditional love, even when we’re grumpy.
Two New Years written by Richard Ho, illustrated by Lynn Scurfield
Simple first-person narration explains that the child celebrates two New Years — one for their Chinese heritage, Lunar New Year in the spring, and the other for their Jewish faith, Rosh Hashanah, in the fall. Both celebrations are filled with family and food, traditions and good wishes. Bright, colorful illustrations dance across the pages in celebration.
Ruby’s Chinese New Year by Vickie Lee, illustrated by Joey Chou
Ruby’s grandmother can’t come to her so Ruby decides to go to her Grandmother. She draws a picture to give to Grandmother and sets off. On her journey, she meets the animals of the Zodiac who help and accompany her as she travels.
The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Alina Chau
As Xingling and her Po Po decorate their home with red decorations, Po Po explains about the terrible Nian monster who ate villages until he was defeated by loud sounds, fire, and the color red, traditions that keep him away. But, suddenly the Nian monster appears, and not only is he not scared of the red decorations, but he is hungry. Clever Xingling outsmarts the monster with another favorite Lunar New Year tradition — food!
The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale by Ying Chang Compesten
This is sort of a Gingerbread Man and Jack and the Beanstalk hybrid story — and it’s such fun! A young boy returns home with a wok instead of food. To make matters worse, the wok runs away. But, the wok returns…with quite a surprise!
Our Lunar New Year by Yobe Qiu
Read how families in different countries like China, Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand celebrate the Lunar New Year with different foods and activities.
Lunar New Year by Hannah Eliot, illustrated by Alina Chau
This board book (that is too long for babies) introduces readers to the traditions of Lunar New Year including fireworks and other traditions that are celebrated in China such as the zodiac animals.
Mulan’s Lunar New Year by Natasha Yim, illustrated by Sophie Li
7-year-old Mulan’s enthusiasm in helping with the holiday preparations keeps messing things up. But her family knows her intentions are good and throughout the day, readers will learn about the traditions and symbols.
The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey
The Jade Emperor decides to name each calendar year after an animal and will pick the order based on the first twelve animals who finished in a race. 13 animals start but only 12 can finish. Who do you predict will be out?
Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade by Lyla Lee, illustrated by Dung Ho
I love this second book in the Mindy Kim beginning chapter book series even more than the first. It’s Mindy’s first Lunar New Year since her mom died. Despite her best efforts to make the right Korean New Year foods, it just doesn’t feel right. But, her dad and new friends help her find joy in familiar traditions and make her own, new traditions.
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