Chinese New Year Books for Kids

Chinese New Year (also commonly known as Lunar New Year) is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world. The festival traditionally lasts for 15 days, though many modern families only celebrate for a few days. The lunar calendar determines when the holiday will occur each year, typically sometime between late January and early February. In honor of the holiday I have assembled a list of 15 of my favorite picture books about Chinese New Year!

15 Picture Books Celebrating Chinese New Year

Looking for more great reads for Chinese New Year? Blogger and book list guru Erica from What Do We Do All Day? has put together this awesome list of Chinese folktales for kids. Be sure to hop over and check it out!

Bringing In The New YearBringing In the New Year by Grace Lin

Lively, saturated illustrations and simple text (1-2 sentences per page) tell the story of one family’s preparation for the New Year. Cleaning the house, making dumplings, and getting new haircuts and outfits are among the traditional activities that the parents and children participate in together. Once everything is ready, they celebrate with a feast, fireworks, and a parade.

Dragon DanceDragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap by Joan Holub

This exuberant lift-the-flap book is a perfect way to introduce the youngest book lovers to all there is to love about Chinese New Year. The rhyming text and engaging illustrations make this book fun to read all year long.

Sam and the Lucky MoneySam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn

Sam is excited to visit Chinatown with his mother for New Year’s. He can hardly wait to spend his “lucky money” – dollar bills tucked into small red envelopes that children receive at Lunar New Year. Sam eyes all of the treats the market has to offer, from sweet pastries to new toys, but when he encounters a stranger in need he has a change of heart. This touching story deserves a place on the shelf year round.

A New Year's ReunionA New Year’s Reunion by Yu Li-Qiong and Zhu Cheng-Liang

Maomao’s father works far away building houses, and is only able to come home once a year for Chinese New Year. Maomao loves having her father home, and the family excitedly prepares for the New Year holiday. This heartwarming family tale is gorgeously illustrated with detailed gouache paintings.

Celebrate Chinese New YearCelebrate Chinese New Year by Carolyn Otto

This non-fiction book – published by the National Geographic Society – is perfect for bigger kids (ages 6+) who want to learn more about Chinese New Year. With vibrant photographs and fascinating details, this book gives kids an intriguing look at a holiday celebrated by millions.

The Runaway WokThe Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine

When a poor family sends their son to the market to trade their last few eggs for a bag of rice, he instead brings back a rusty old wok. To everyone’s surprise, the wok springs to life, singing and hopping out the door! It returns full of goodies, enough for the family to share with all of their friends and neighbors. This whimsical story is laugh-out-loud funny. The book includes an information section about Chinese New Year and the significance of the wok, plus a recipe for stir-fried rice!

My First Chinese New YearMy First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz

This colorful book is perfect for introducing toddlers and preschoolers to Chinese New Year. The story follows one little girl as she and her family take part in all of the traditional preparations for the holiday.

D is for Dragon DanceD Is for Dragon Dance by Ying Chang Compestine

F is for firecrackers, H is for haircut, L is for lanterns, and Z is for zodiac! This entertaining book uses every letter of the alphabet to introduce young readers to the many customs of Chinese New Year. This book features stunningly textured full-page paintings and a New Year’s dumpling recipe!

Emma's American Chinese New YearEmma’s American Chinese New Year by Amy Meadows

Emma is Chinese-born and adopted into an American family. Every year Emma and her family celebrate her Chinese heritage at Chinese New Year. Emma cheerily narrates as she and her parents make paper lanterns, bake moon cakes, and gather with friends and family at the local cultural center. The rhyming text flows easily and makes this story fun to read again and again!

This Next New YearThis Next New Year by Janet S. Wong

An optimistic young boy shares his hopes for Chinese New Year. The best thing about this book is that it depicts the ways in which people of different ethnic backgrounds celebrate the holiday. The main character is half Chinese and half Korean. His best friend, who is French and German, celebrates Chinese New Year with Thai food takeout. His other friend, who is part Mexican, enjoys celebrating the holiday with her neighbor who came from Singapore. This inviting story makes Chinese New Year accessible to everyone.

Happy Happy Chinese New YearHappy, Happy Chinese New Year! by Demi

This is another great pick for elementary school aged children. Paired with dynamic illustrations, this book explains the origins and significance of each Chinese New Year tradition, including the symbolism behind the food, firecrackers, and more.

Chinese New YearChinese New Year by Nancy Dickmann

Colorful photographs with simple captions give younger kids a basic introduction to what Chinese New Year is all about.

Crouching TigerCrouching Tiger by Ying Chang Compestine

Vinson, a young Chinese American boy, eagerly anticipates a visit from his grandfather. When Vinson sees his grandfather practicing tai chi in the garden he asks to join in. But Vinson quickly loses interest; tai chi is slow and boring, and his grandfather insists on calling him by his Chinese name, Ming Da. As the Chinese New Year parade approaches however, Vinson begins to see his grandfather – and tai chi – in a new light. This poignant story gives readers a glimpse at Chinese American culture and will appeal to children interested in martial arts.

Chelsea's Chinese New YearChelsea’s Chinese New Year by Lisa Bullard

It’s the night before Chinese New Year, and Chelsea’s family have all gathered to talk, laugh, feast, and play games. Even the kids get to stay up late! Using simple text and bold, color-saturated illustrations, this book is an engaging read-aloud that all ages can enjoy.

Moonbeams Dumplings and Dragon BoatsMoonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats
by Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz, and The Children’s Museum, Boston

This fantastic non-fiction book is packed with fun facts, traditional stories, recipes, crafts, and other entertaining activities. Perfect for home or classroom use, it is a great choice for older kids (ages 8+) who want to further explore Chinese New Year.

19 Comments

  1. It was so great to collaborate with you, Katie! I hope we get to do it again sometime! You’ve got GREAT books on this list, some of them are brand new to me and I can’t wait to read them.

  2. So many new choices…thanks for sharing, Katie.

  3. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up of Kid Lit Reviews and Posts: Week #2 | Mother Daughter Book Reviews

  4. Pingback: Chinese New Year: Fun Events, Crafts and Food For Celebrating with Your Kids | Mile High Mamas

  5. Wow! These all look so cool! Stopping in from the Kid Lit Blog Hop and couldn’t resist children’s books celebrating culture.

  6. I just love Chinese New Year and the books about it. Thank you for sharing these, I have been looking for books about Chinese New Year since it is going to be her soon.

  7. Just found this amazing list through the kidlit blog hop. I love what you’ve done with the big, bright cover images. Great selections of books, too.

  8. Fantastic list Katie! As usual this goes on my pin board 🙂 I am definitely picking out some of these titles for the read aloud session next week, will let you know how it goes! Thanks for sharing this on Kidlit Bloghop.
    Reshama @ Stackingbooks

  9. A wonderful line up Katie, once again, you have dazzled us. Thanks for hosting the Kid Lit Blog Hop

  10. Brilliant list. Excited to get hold of some of these books to read to my kids.

  11. Just looking at the covers, I want to go out and read all of these! They are so colorful and lively–and that’s just the sort of energy that is bound to appeal to kids. Hopefully my local library will have some of these. If not, I’m sure I can find some great alternatives.

    Thanks for putting together such a thoughtful list.

    -Your fellow blog hop hostess 🙂

  12. This is a great list of books! Teaching in a multi-cultural high school, January is always a joyous time. My favorite pieces of the Chinese New Year are the Lucky Money and the lunch buffet the kids and parents would provide.

  13. The runaway wok sounds like a lot of fun! I’ve just found it at my library’s catalogue and placed a hold.

  14. Thank you for such a nice list on Chinese lunar new year. Just right in time! I am so glad to see there are so many books about Chinese culture on Amazon. Are they all in Chinese? I have some books in my bookstore about Chinese culture in Chinese though. Thank you again for hosting Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  15. Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews says:

    Great collection that you`ve put together Katie. The Runaway Wok really caught my eye. It reminds me of the Runaway Dinner by Allan Ahlberg – one my kids’ favorites. Thanks for linking your post into the Kid Lit Blog Hop and for hosting once again! 🙂

  16. Thanks so much for choosing this post for the Hop! You’re a great host. Sorry I’m so late to the party this time around!

  17. Pingback: Chinese New Year Books for Kids | | KidPicksKidPicks

  18. Pingback: Weekend Links: Happy Chinese New Year with Great Kidlit Books - Jump Into A Book

  19. Check out the “Chinese Festivals” book series (8 ebooks and 2 print books) that are available through various book retailers worldwide.

    Chinese New Year
    Lantern Festival
    Qing Ming Festival
    Dragon Boat Festival
    Double 7th Festival
    Mid-Autumn Festival
    Double 9th Festival
    Winter Solstice Festival

    http://insightcirclepublishing.com/ChineseSchool2Go-chinese-festivals

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