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Help your kids celebrate and learn about Lunar New Year with these colorful, captivating books.
Whether you’re preparing for Lunar New Year, or looking for ways to teach your kids about this important holiday, a book is a great place to start. Lunar New Year is the most significant celebration among many East and Southeast Asian cultures, and this year it will begin on January 22. From stories about the origins of the Chinese zodiac (it’s the Year of The Rabbit, by the way) to glimpses into how different cultures observe the holiday, these books can add to your festivities or just provide insight into the colorful, meaningful traditions that are a part of Lunar New Year.
A Sweet New Year for Ren
Written by Michelle Sterling, illustrated by Dung Ho
Your youngest will relate to Ren’s predicament—she’s excited and enthusiastic about her family’s Lunar New Year festivities, but too little to help out. Follow Ren as she waits and wonders—when will she be old enough to help make the traditional pineapple cakes? Delicious bonus: a recipe for the pineapple cake is included!
Tomorrow Is New Year's Day: Seollal, a Korean Celebration of the Lunar New Year
Written by Aram Kim
We all share Mina’s excitement as she prepares to share the customs of Seollal―the Korean Lunar New Year—with all of her classmates. First she’ll show off her colorful, traditional hanbok, demonstrate how to do a respectful sebae, and help everyone cook up some tasty tteokguk. Parents will appreciate that there’s a glossary of Korean words and a pronunciation guide included in the book.
Playing with Lanterns
Written by Wang Yage, illustrated by Zhu Chengliang
Learn all about the significance of paper lanterns in Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in this colorful, upbeat story that was originally published in China. Follow Zhao Di and her friends as they set out in their village to participate in festivities and try to keep their lanterns lit, while dealing with windy weather and mischievous friends. An author’s note gives details about the paper lantern tradition so you can participate, too.
This is Tet: Rhyming Story About Lunar New Year in Vietnam
Written by Tam Bui, illustrated by Mai Ngo
This beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book tells the story of a child from the city celebrating Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, with her family in a northern Vietnamese village. The book—originally written in Vietnamese—was inspired by the author’s own family and is set in the illustrator’s hometown in Cổ Bản Village.
To buy: This is Tet: Rhyming Story About Lunar New Year in Vietnam $12.99; amazon.com
Ruby's Chinese New Year
Written by Vickie Lee, illustrated by Joey Chou
Introduce your child to the animals in the Chinese zodiac as they follow the story of Ruby, who is delivering a card to her grandmother for Chinese New Year. Along the way she meets each of the twelve zodiac animals, including the clever Rat, the strong Ox, and the cautious Rabbit, who help Ruby on her adventure. Also included are fun crafts relating to the Chinese zodiac.
Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade
Written by Lyla Lee, illustrated by Dung Ho
Mindy Kim is experiencing something we all do during the holidays—expectation versus reality. As she prepares to celebrate a traditional Korean New Year—the first one without her mom—she worries her plans aren’t shaping up as she had dreamed of. But with her family and friends by her side, she finds that she can celebrate with new traditions and still show respect to the old ones, too.
The Night Before Lunar New Year
Written by Natasha Wing with Lingfeng Ho, illustrated by Amy Wummer
As a little girl is preparing to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year with her family, we get a glimpse at all of the traditions: handing out red envelopes, firecrackers and lighting lanterns. But she’s distracted by one worry: her fear of the loud noises at the upcoming Lunar New Year Parade. Find out if she’s able to overcome her fears, in this addition to the Night Before series that you’ll recognize from Clement C. Moore's classic Night Before Christmas.
It's Your Year, Baby Rabbit
Written by Little Bee Books, illustrated by Ariel Hsu
Meet Baby Rabbit, who is gentle, kind, wise and funny and who loves to share with loved ones. This adorable board book—the first in a new series—will introduce babies and toddlers to the Year of The Rabbit. Future books will cover all twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, featuring sweet stories and positive animal characters.
A New Year's Reunion: A Chinese Story
Written by Yu Li-Qiong, illustrated by Zhu Cheng-Liang
This poignant story about family bonds follows Maomao as she spends time with her father, who works far away and only comes home for Chinese New Year. Maomao revels in spending time with her father and doing ordinary things, like working around the house and going to sleep with both her parents by her side. When it’s time for her father to leave, Maomao learns how her family’s love will endure their physical distance.
The Great Race: Story of the Chinese Zodiac
Written by Ling Lee and Eric Lee, illustrated by Rachel Foo
2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. But what does that mean? With this story, your child will not only learn about the twelve animals that make up the Chinese zodiac but can also learn Chinese as they read the story told in traditional Chinese, Pinyin, and English. You can also access a free audio reading that will make the telling of this traditional Chinese story come to life.