The festivities are characterized by lion dances, which ward off evil spirits; red envelopes, which symbolize good luck; and, most importantly, Chinese astrology, which dictates what zodiac animal will be celebrated each year.
Naturally, the festival is packed with fascinating imagery that lends itself well to storybooks. So if you're looking to teach your child about Chinese New Year, whether you celebrate it culturally or not, here are 10 books that will capture their imaginations.
1. My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz
If you're just starting to introduce Chinese New Year to your little one, then this book is perfect! The story follows a little girl who is participating in the festivities for the first time. Accompanied by bright images that capture the essence of the festival, this picture book is both fun and engaging.
Get it here: Amazon, $8.50
2. The Year of the Dog: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac by Oliver Chin
This adorable book is the first in a new series that teaches kids about the different animals in the Chinese zodiac. Since 2018 is the Year of the Dog, this book is the perfect one to start with. The story follows a puppy named Daniel as he comes of age and learns what it means to be born in his year.
Get it here: Amazon, $11.63
3. Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap Book by Joan Holub
This lift-the-flap book is a fun read that shows children how Chinese New Year is often celebrated. The story introduces kids to customs like red envelopes, New Year's dinner and the festive parades.
Get it here: Chapters/Indigo, $8.14
4. Ruby's Chinese New Year by Vickie Lee
This imaginative story is about a girl named Ruby who is on her way to deliver a special card to her grandmother for Chinese New Year. On her journey, she meets each of the zodiac animals, who help her in their own way. In addition to the story, the back of the book also features a short profile on each animal for further learning and reading.
Get it here: Chapters/Indigo, $23.50
5. Ten Mice for Tet:Vietnamese New Year by Pegi Deitz-Shea
This is a story about Tet, also known as Vietnamese New Year. The book counts up to 10, as a group of mice get ready to celebrate the festival. The story introduces kids to the types of food eaten during the holiday, as well as the tradition of gift giving and lighting fireworks.
Get it here:Amazon, $42.33
6. The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang
You and your kids will appreciate the gorgeous illustrations that bring the animals of the Chinese zodiac to life. This is a fictional take on how 12 animals were chosen for the lunar calendar. According to the story, the Jade Emperor of ancient China declared that the first 12 animals to cross the river would have a year named after them. Naturally, a mad dash to the finish line ensues.
Get it here: Amazon, $14.36
7. Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim
This is a fun retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but with a Chinese New Year twist. Goldy Luck was born in the Year of the Dragon, which means she's supposed to have good wealth and good luck. But it turns out, the little girl has neither of these things, and on Chinese New Year, she accidentally stumbles into the home of three pandas.
Get it here: Amazon, $12.93
8. Hiss! Pop! Boom!: Celebrating Chinese New Year by Tricia Morrissey
If you're looking for a picture book that explains the cultural customs and traditions of the Lunar New Year, then this book is for you. Plus, this book is complete with beautiful brush paintings and calligraphy writing that will engage your child (and you!).
Get it here: Chapters/Indigo, $12.42
9. Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
This story follows a Chinese-American family as they prepare to celebrate the Lunar New Year. It includes every aspect of the festivities, from cleaning (to "sweep out the dust of the old year") to eating dumplings, lighting lanterns, and watching lion dances.
Get it here: Chapters/Indigo, $8.99
10.Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn
Exchanging red envelopes filled with money is a Chinese New Year tradition. This book explores this custom with a character named Sam, who is finally old enough to spend the "lucky money" his grandparents give him.
Get it here:Chapters/Indigo, $11.50
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