For many, many years of my life, I admittedly knew little about Chinese New Year, aside from the fact that it changed dates each year, people did dragon dances or watched dragon parades, and if you were lucky, you might receive lucky money in a red envelope. As an adult, I’ve learned a little bit more, but as my girls began to learn about these traditions in school, I desired to find good books (of course) so that we could all better understand the Chinese New Year and its history and traditions. This year, Chinese New Year is on Saturday, January 25, 2020, so I’m hoping this list gives you time to snag one or more of these books from your local bookstore or library, so that you and your loved ones can either learn more about or more deeply celebrate the Chinese New Year!
All links for purchase are Amazon Affiliate links, and most age ranges listed are publishers’ recommendations. Thank you for considering making a purchase through my links!
A New Year’s Reunion by Yu Li-Qiong, illustrated by Zhu Cheng-Liang — We received this one last year from Page 1 Books back when they had a children’s subscription box, and I am so glad that this one has a place in our permanent library! Li-Qiong and Cheng-Liang combine to give readers a delightful story of reunions, relationships, and traditions around the Chinese New Year, focusing mainly on Chinese migrant workers. Ages 3-7.
Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu — This story is definitely the sweetest, kindest story on the list! Sam receives his “lucky money” on Chinese New Year’s Day and can’t wait to go to Chinatown to spend it! What will he buy? His favorite buns? A new toy? Sam does something even better… He generously shares his money with someone much more in need than he. Definitely check this out if you need a heart-warming New Year story to read! Ages 4-8.
The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Alina Chau — Set in Shanghai, The Nian Monster is the story of a curious little girl who wants to know why Chinese New Year decorations are all red. Though her grandmother’s response about the legend of the Nian Monster reassures Xingling that the Nian Monster has been kept successfully at bay for a long time, Xingling sees the monster! Through her adventures to fight him away, we learn about Chinese New Year traditions like “life-long noodles,” eating fish to bring good luck, and enjoying rice cake to “sweeten your future.” An Author’s Note gives more information about the Nian Monster and traditional Chinese New Year foods. Some sensitive children might find the Monster in this story scary, but hopefully the cartoon-like characters will help them separate a bit. Ages 4-8.
This Next New Year by Janet S. Wong, illustrated by Yangsook Choi — Opening by addressing the difference between the calendar New Year and Chinese New Year, Wong continues on to tell hte story of a diverse family and group of friends who all celebrate Chinese New Year, often with their own twists on traditions. The narrator and his family, who are down on their luck lately, are optimistically looking forward to what the New Year will bring, as they prepare for and celebrate the holiday. An Author’s Note at the back explains a little about how this book came to be. Ages 3-6.
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin — Perfect for your youngest readers, these brightly colored illustrations and minimal text will keep their attention while also teaching them traditions of celebrating Chinese New Year, such as “get-rich dumplings,” new haircuts, and sweeping out the house. An information page at the end gives parents more background information about Chinese New Year for families or classes who might want to dig deeper. Ages 3-7, but perfect for younger, too.
Ruby’s Chinese New Year by Vickie Lee, illustrated by Joey Chou — A New Year’s story combined with lessons about the Chinese Zodiac means this book is delightfully educational! Ruby make a special card for her grandmother for Chinese New Year, but she needs help delivering it… Which she finds from a hardworking Ox, an adventurious Dragon, a problem-solving Horse, and more! Be sure to check out the multiple pages of information and crafts about both Chinese New Year and Zodiac at the back of the book. Ages 4-8.
Do you all celebrate Chinese or Lunar New Year, or is your child learning about it in school? Hopefully this list is helpful to you and your families too!