Lunar New Year Children’s Books

Lunar New Year Children's Books

In this post on Lunar New Year children’s books, I’ll be sharing our book recommendations for wonderful picture books to read aloud with young children and learn more about the traditions and festivities. Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year, starts with the first new moon of the year and is welcomed with a 15-day celebration in many Asian communities around the world.

Lunar New Year Children’s Books

Celebrate the World: Lunar New Year

by Kat Zhang and illustrated by Alina Chau

This beautifully illustrated board book, and one of our favourite Lunar New Year children’s books, is a great introduction for young readers, explaining the meaning and cultural significance behind the traditions and festivities. The Celebrate the World series highlights special occasions and holidays across the globe and includes board books on Ramadan, Diwali and Día de los Muertos.

From the back cover: “There is a festival known by many names: Chinese New Year, Spring Festival and Lunar New Year. Lanterns are lit, red decorations are hung and fireworks crackle in the night sky. Let’s celebrate together!”

Amazon ¦ Book Depository

The Runaway Wok

written by Ying Chang Compestine and illustrated by Sebastiá Serra

One of our favourite Lunar New Year children’s books is this tale that follows Ming, a young boy who goes to the market to buy eggs for his family to make fried rice to share with the neighbors for Chinese New Years, and the empty old wok he came back home with instead. We love the fun story and vibrant illustrations, learning more about the traditions of Chinese New Year and the message of the importance of sharing and generosity.

From the back cover: “With a skippity-happily-ho, a magical, mysterious wok rolls into town. The clever wok knows just where to go to get treats for the poor families… and it’s might be just the ticket to a festive Chinese New Year!”

Amazon ¦ Book Depository

Ruby’s Chinese New Year

written by Vickie Lee and illustrated Joey Chou

In this fun Lunar New Year children’s book, Ruby has a special card to give to her grandmother for Chinese New Year. But who will help her get to grandmother’s house to deliver it? Will it be clever Rat, strong Ox, or cautious Rabbit? Ruby meets each of the twelve zodiac animals on her journey. This picture book includes back matter with a focus on the animals of the Chinese zodiac.

Ruby's Chinese New Year by Vickie Lee

Amazon ¦ Bookshop ¦ Book Depository

The Great Race

written and illustrated by Emily Hiles

The Story of the Chinese Zodiac. As the new year approaches, each animal wants it to be named after them, but no one can agree. The Jade Emperor, the ruler of all gods within Chinese mythology, hosted a great race across a wide and dangerous river to decide which twelve animals would win a place in the Chinese zodiac calendar.

The Great Race by Emily Hiles

Amazon ¦ Book Depository

Dim Sum for Everyone

by Grace Lin

A Chinese American family sits down to enjoy a traditional dim sum meal. Dumplings, cakes, buns, and tarts are wheeled out in little dishes on trolleys, and each family member gets to choose a favourite treat! Lin’s bold and gloriously patterned artwork is a feast for the eyes. Her story is simple and tailor-made for reading aloud to young children, and she includes an informative author’s note for parents, teachers, and children who want to learn more about the origins and practice of dim sum.

Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin

Amazon ¦ Bookshop ¦ Book Depository

And while these books are not specifically about or set during Lunar New Year, I’m including these lovely picture books that are also an excellent introduction to Chinese folk tales and culture.

The Magic Paintbrush

written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Joel Stewart

Traditional Chinese folktale retold by Julia Donaldson and complemented by splendid watercolour illustrations by Joel Stewart. The verse is a pleasure to read aloud and it’s a delightful story to introduction to Chinese culture and a timeless tale that has a valuable moral message.

From the description: “When the greedy emperor hears about Shen’s magic brush, all he can think about is gold. Shen, however, is determined to only paint food for the hungry and clothes for the needy. But how can a little village girl match an emperor’s mighty power?”

Amazon ¦ Bookshop ¦ Book Depository

Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon

by Hannah Eliot and illustrated by Charlene Chua

In this sequel to Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao, Amy Wu flexes her problem solving skills while sharing an important message about being true to yourself. After reading a book about dragons during storytime, Amy’s teacher tasks the class with drawing a dragon that is unique to them. Amy paints a red dragon with a long, wingless body, staglike horns and eagle claws, but her friends don’t think it looks like a real dragon. When Amy tries to create dragons similar to the one from the teacher’s book, or what her friends have made, they just don’t feel right to her.

Once back at home, Amy explains what had happened to her grandma, who then tells her stories about the wise, wingless dragons that often feature in Chinese mythology and folklore. These stories spark new inspiration for Amy, and she rounds up her family to help create a special dragon to present at school the next day, one that is truly unique to her. It’s a fun, engaging story with delightful illustrations, and we love the message of being true to yourself.

At the back of the book, you can learn more about the differences between Eastern and Western interpretations of dragons and also get crafty with some ideas and cut-outs for creating and styling your own dragons.

Amazon ¦ Bookshop ¦ Book Depository

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