22 Fascinating Chinese New Year Books for Kids
Chinese New Year is a meaningful celebration for the people of the Chinese culture, and it’s typically celebrated between January 21 and February 20. This holiday is also known as the Lunar New Year because it coincides with the phases of the moon and Spring Festival.
After having taught hundreds of students in China over the course of many years with VIPKid, I have developed a great appreciation for the special traditions surrounding this particular holiday. This includes purchasing and wearing new clothes, the use of the color red, the animals of the Chinese zodiac, and paper lanterns…just to name a few.
So I’ve put together 22 of the most fascinating Chinese New Year books for kids to help you share this memorable festival with the children in your life.
Chinese New Year Books for Kids
1. Ruby’s Chinese New Year
A young girl named Ruby wants to deliver a very special card to her grandmother for Chinese New Year, but she needs help getting there.
With the assistance of each of the twelve animals from the Chinese zodiac, Ruby finds herself on the journey of a lifetime! Discover the unique characteristics of her animal friends and whether or not Ruby makes it safely to her destination.
2. Celebrating Chinese New Year
This wonderful book is a wealth of interesting information about the rich history and folklore surrounding this holiday. The whole family will enjoy the diverse foods, festivals, and fun as well as the engaging, hands-on activities included.
With 50 pages of facts and pictures, you will become immersed in the Chinese traditions surrounding this memorable time. And you may create some new family traditions of your own.
3. Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas
In this adorable story by Natasha Yim, a little girl named Goldy Luck is sent to her neighbor’s house to deliver a plate of turnip cakes. When she realizes they aren’t home, she decides to try their food, chairs, and beds!
This unique retelling of the traditional Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a stand-out title in our list of Chinese New Year books for kids.
4. Chinese New Year Wishes
Hong and his family members are so excited to celebrate this significant time in the Chinese calendar together. Of all the holidays, the Chinese Lantern Festival is Hong’s favorite!
Written in both English and Chinese, young and older children alike will be mesmerized by the lively illustrations and text. This book is a perfect opportunity to introduce your kids to the Chinese language and symbols.
5. Alex’s Good Fortune
Alex cannot wait for Chinese New Year! She is so excited to share her family’s traditions with her best friend, Ethan. The two friends get to do so many fun things together including participating in the parade, receiving red envelopes, making dumplings, cleaning the house, and eating a delicious feast together.
With simple text and beautifully-colored illustrations, kids will adore this lovely story by Benson Shum!
6. Bringing in the New Year
Each member of this Chinese-American family has a certain job to do to prepare for the festivities. Follow along as they attend the dragon parade, watch the lion dancers, and make special foods together.
Author Grace Lin does a wonderful job of bringing this unique cultural celebration alive for readers.
7. Nian, The Chinese New Year Dragon
The fierce dragon, Nian, lives in a prison beneath the sea, but once a year he is allowed to leave and terrorize the locals.
However, a local girl named Mei has been visited by a magical warrior who tells her it’s her destiny to protect the people from the Nian dragon. If she fails, the dragon will be free forever!
8. Lunar New Year (Celebrate the World)
Lunar New Year is so special in many Asian cultures, and this great book connects the activities in which families participate now to when and where they began back in ancient China.
It even gives thorough explanations as to why families get new clothes, clean out their homes, and consume certain foods during this time. While all of the books on this list are fantastic, this board book is one of my top picks!
9. The Runaway Wok
On Chinese New Year’s eve, a poor couple sends their son to trade eggs for some food in the outdoor market. Along the way, he meets a man who wants to trade the eggs for his rusty wok.
When the boy hears the wok sing, he knows it is magic and trades with the man. Little does he know he is in for a grand adventure!
10. Playing with Lanterns
Zhou Di and her friends are excited to celebrate Chinese New Year with their colorful paper lanterns. They have to work hard to keep their candles lit as the wind (and sneaky village boys) try to snuff them out!
Join Zhou Di and her friends as they experience this remarkable time of year and all of the emotional ups and downs associated with it.
11. Sam and the Lucky Money
Sam is so excited when he gets his lucky red envelopes full of money. He knows exactly what he wants to purchase, but he quickly becomes disheartened when he discovers that the money he’s been given isn’t enough to buy what he planned.
However, an unexpected meeting with a special stranger quickly changes Sam’s mind about the money and his attitude.
12. The Nian Monster
13. A New Year’s Reunion
Told from the perspective of a toddler, this heartwarming story will fascinate young readers. MaoMao is so happy to see her father because has been away most of the year. She has missed him so much, but he is finally home for Chinese New Year.
This poignant book will help readers and listeners alike develop a sense of empathy for the main character and imagine what it would be like to have a parent who has been gone.
14. My First Chinese New Year
This fun book by Karen Katz celebrates the wonder of a child’s first Chinese New Year. Enjoy the festivities and special events such as getting a haircut, enjoying a feast, and watching a Chinatown parade with the young narrator.
The appealing illustrations and simple text in this interactive picture book will keep the attention of even your youngest readers and listeners.
15. Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year
With over 30 pages of photographs and information answering the big questions like why do children receive money in red envelopes, how do the families remember their ancestors, and which feasts are celebrated, this book is sure to entice even the most hesitant readers.
This non-fiction book by National Geographic is absolutely beautiful and would be a great addition to your library.
16. Dragon Dance
This lift the flap book is another excellent way to reflect on a very important holiday and discuss Lunar New Year traditions. While many of the books on this list use Mandarin for some of the traditional Chinese phrases, this book uses Cantonese as its foundational language.
The vibrant pictures and interactive flaps are sure to keep the interest of your young readers.
17. Peppa’s Chinese New Year
Peppa is so excited because she and her class get to participate in many of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations and activities like hanging lanterns and a dragon dance.
But this year is extra special because it is the year of the pig! If your child is a fan of Peppa the Pig, then out of all of the Chinese New Year books for kids on this list…this one is a must-have!
18. Curious George Dragon Dance
George and Marco meet a new friend named Lily, who shares all about the Chinese New Year holiday. She is going to have the chance to be in the dragon costume as part of the parade and she asks George and Marco to join her.
While practicing, the costume gets messed up and has to be fixed before the parade…but will it be ready in time?
19. 12 Lucky Animals: A Bilingual Baby Book
This delightfully colorful board book is an excellent introduction to one of the most unique Chinese New Year traditions called the Chinese zodiac.
Each set of pages features illustrations of one of the twelve zodiac animals along with the English names, Chinese characters, and pronunciations. Young children will love this whimsical and beautiful picture book!
20. The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac
In this captivating story by Dawn Casey, we meet the jade emperor, who wants to create a special calendar for the Chinese people with each year named after a different animal. But he has a problem.
He knows neither how to determine which animals to pick nor which order they should be mentioned. So he comes up with a brilliant solution in the form of a great race where the winners will be included in the order they complete the race.
21. How to Catch a Dragon
The “How to Catch” kids are off on another adventure, but this time, they are searching for an elusive dragon.
This entertaining tale takes place in China at the start of the Chinese New Year where the kids are hoping to find a dragon who will bring good luck and good health! But the question is, will they be able to catch one in time?
22. Chelsea’s Chinese New Year
Chelsea and her family are celebrating Chinese New Year, and she is so excited to share her unique perspective as a Chinese-American. She gets to stay up late, watch fireworks, and watch an amazing dragon parade!
Follow along in this delightful story as Chelsea shares what she likes most about this special holiday.
Reading books together is a great way to teach a love of literature. And from the fiction options to the non-fiction titles, these Chinese New Year books for kids are all winners.
Be sure to look for these at your local library, your favorite bookstore, or simply purchase them through the Amazon links I shared above. The truth is, it doesn’t matter how you end up acquiring these specific Chinese New Year books for kids; just have fun reading them and learning more about this unique culture and celebration!