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. In this post on Lunar New Year children’s books, I’ll be sharing our book recommendations for wonderful picture and chapter books for children to learn more about the Lunar New Year traditions and festivities.
In 2024, the Chinese New Year falls on Saturday, 10 February, which marks the start of the Year of the Dragon.
Related: Lunar New Year in London with kids
Lunar New Year Children’s Books
Table of Contents
written by Ying Chang Compestine and illustrated by Sebastiá Serra
One of our favourite Chinese New Year picture 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 Year, 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!”
by National Geographic Kids
Part of the popular “Holidays Around the World” series by National Geographic, this informative guide is a great introduction to Chinese New Year for young readers. The simple, educational text brings the historical and cultural aspects of the Chinese New Year into focus, accompanied by vibrant images of the fireworks, parades, lanterns and feast.
From the book description: “Celebrate Chinese New Year is the latest, timely addition to National Geographic’s popular Holidays Around the World series. With 25 colorful images and a simple, educational text, the book is a lively invitation to revel in this child-friendly, national and international holiday.”
written by Natasha Yim and illustrated by Jingting Wang
A fun and educational Lunar New Year children’s book that captures the magic of the celebration through beautiful illustrations and an authentic narrative story. Follow Ling and her family and learn about the preparation, celebration and symbolism behind the Lunar New Year festival. A 16-page ‘factivity’ section follows the story, with more detail about how the festival is celebrated in China and beyond and several enriching activities including crafts and recipes.
From the back cover: “A magical first-hand account of Lunar New Year. Join Ling and her family as they celebrate 15 days of Lunar New Year – a time full of careful preparations, delicious food, lanterns, fireworks and dragon dancing.”
written by Kat Zhang and illustrated by Alina Chau
This beautifully illustrated board book is one of our favourite Lunar New Year children’s books for toddlers and preschoolers. Celebrate the World: Lunar New Year is a great introduction to the event for little ones, 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!”
written by Vickie Lee and illustrated Joey Chou
In this light and engaging 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.
written and illustrated by Emily Hiles
This is an interesting read for children to learn more about the story behind 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.
written by Evi Triantafyllides and illustrated by Nefeli Malekou
This lovely story follows the adventurous character, Mei Ling, and her plan to invent a baby brother. Her exciting journey is filled with wonderful Chinese traditions, delicious foods, rich symbolism and a cheeky dragon that brings Chinese culture to life. The book includes an interactive “search and find” quiz with fun facts on China, a Mandarin glossary, and fascinating facts on China.
From the back cover: “For as long as she could remember, Mei Ling wanted a baby brother. She asked and asked, and wished and wished, yet nothing happened. Until one day… she came up with a plan! Imaginary friends, a fantastical world and adventures at every turn – a heartwarming read for all the little dreamers, explorers and inventors out there.”
written by Michelle Sterling and illustrated by Dung Ho
A Sweet New Year for Ren is a charming picture book following Ren and her family as they gather to prepare for and celebrate Lunar New Year. Children will enjoy the beautifully detailed illustrations of this Lunar New Year children’s book depicting the bright and colourful decorations and the delicious food and treats. At the end of the story, there is a recipe for pineapple cakes for families to make their own special treats.
From the summary: “‘You’re still too little, Ren.’ Every year, Ren’s family gathers to prepare for and celebrate Lunar New Year. Bright oranges, tangerines, pomelos, and kumquats are all around. More than anything, Ren wants to help make her favorite pineapple cakes. Watching and waiting, Ren wonders, when will she be old enough? This year is different. The family is together, and it’s Ren’s chance at last!”
written by Joyce Ching and illustrated by Jérémy Pailler
Dragon Dancer is a magical story around the customs of Chinese New Year, told from the perspective of Yao, the young dragon dancer. Accompanied by gorgeous illustrations from French illustrator, Jérémy Pailler, the story takes children through the symbolism of a Chinese festival and the dragon dance, and personal journey of Yao following in the footsteps of his grandfather.
From the back cover: “It is the eve of Chinese New Year. Lanterns are hung in the shopping malls of Singapore and Yao is preparing to wake the ancient sky dragon, Shen Long, from his year-long sleep. From the moment Shen Long opens his great amber eyes and unfurls his silver-blue tail, Yao will be propelled on a magical journey through the skies of Singapore to battle the bad luck of the previous year and usher in the good.”
written by Lyla Lee and illustrated by Dung Ho
Looking for a Lunar New Year chapter book for early readers? Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade is the second novel in the book series following the adventures of Mindy Kim, an Asian American girl. Mindy is excited to celebrate the Lunar New Year, even though it is the first one without her mom. But things don’t quite go to plan, and the celebration doesn’t feel the same as it did before.
Can Mindy find a way to still enjoy her old holiday traditions, with the help of her family and friends, and create new ones along the way?
From the back cover: “Mindy is excited to go to the annual Lunar New Year Parade in her new town! She is especially excited for a few things: (1) wearing the special hanbok she picked out with her mom, (2) yummy food!, (3) fun performances from different Asian groups and (4) her new BFF, Sally, will be joining her too! But the parade fun doesn’t go exactly as planned. Can Mindy still find a way to celebrate?
written by Dr Wee Bee Geok and illustrated by Turine Tran
The story of the Nian monster is a traditional Chinese folk tale, which explores the ancient rituals of Chinese New Year and explains how it has become one of the most celebrated moments of the Chinese calendar. This book is part of the Collins Big Cat Tales collection that helps pupils learn about traditions and culture from around the world (recommended for ages 7 – 11).
From the back cover: “Every Chinese New Year’s Eve, the Nian monster came out of the ocean to destroy houses, crops and food. Would the villagers ever find a way to stop it?”
Chinese Folk Tales for Kids
While the following 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 more Chinese folk tales and culture for children.
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?”
written 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 this picture 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.
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.
This post has been updated on 4 February 2024 with more recommendations for Lunar New Year children’s books. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, so if you do click through and make a purchase I may receive a small amount at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!
PIN FOR LATER – Lunar New Year Children’s Books