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Is it really almost Lunar New Year already? While we Vietnamese people call it Tết, most people call this celebration Chinese New Year. Koreans celebrate too. It’s one of the biggest parties thrown every year! In fact Chinese culture celebrates for 2 weeks while the Vietnamese has 3 days of festivities. In China and Vietnam, everything shuts down so people can visit family and party. Our family doesn’t hold days long parties since we have jobs and school.
Our family is excited about celebrating the new year. We’re going to stuff our faces with foods that represent good luck and fortune, pass out li xi (lucky red envelopes), Skype with our family, and reread some of our favorite Lunar New Year books.
I hope you’ll join us in celebrating by reading a few Lunar New Year books too. I’ve consolidated both my lists into one easy to refer to post plus updated with some new books, including ones about Korean New Year.
Lunar New Year Books for Babies and Toddlers
Dragons are considered very lucky in many Asian cultures. My Lucky Little Dragon by Joyce Wan will captivate the little ones in your family with its whimsical illustrations for each animal of the Chinese zodiac. Wan even created a chart to discover what your animal is.
Karen Katz is another talented writer and illustrator who has written numerous multicultural books for babies and toddlers. My First Chinese New Year shows a little girl’s wonder as she and her sister prepares for the upcoming new year. You’ll learn about lunar new year traditions and why we wear the color red on this holiday.
New Year means new clothes. In New Clothes for New Year’s Day by Hyun-joo Bae, a little girl is very excited as she dresses in traditional Korean clothes to prepare for the New Year’s festivities. The book is out of print but used copies are available. Definitely check your library!
With flaps and rhymes, Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap Book by Joan Holub shows how families prepare for the Chinese New Year. Visit the outdoor market to lucky red envelopes, little readers can “help” prepare by lifting the flaps.
In The Next New Year by Janet Wong, Chinese Korean boy tells his best friends, how are German French and Hopi Mexican, what it’s like to celebrate Chinese New Year. His family celebrates with both Chinese and Korean traditions.
In The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang, the legendary Nian Monster has returned to devour Shanghai! Luckily, Xingling is a smart girl who uses lucky new year foods to trick the monster and send him packing. This action packed story is a fun way to learn about Chinese New Year foods and traditions.
Red Is a Dragon: A Book of Colors by Grace Lin will teach your kids about color by showing them different items from the Chinese culture including dragon dances and firecrackers, iconic images for the Lunar New Year. Grace Lin is a favorite author in our household, and I think you’ll come to love her books too!
In Grace Lin’s Bringing In the New Year, follow the Chinese American family as they go through all of their lunar year traditions: from making dumplings to cleaning the home to lion dancers. Lin’s color illustrations will keep your kids enthralled in the story.
Ten Mice for Tet! by Pegi Deitz Shea and Cynthia Weill is one of our favorite Lunar New Year books. Beautifully illustrated with needlework illustrations, this counting book also shares Vietnamese traditions and foods you typically see during this holiday. There’s even a guide in the back that further explains the illustrations on each page. Unfortunately this book is out of print. You can purchase it used or borrow it from your library (that’s what we do.
Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey (Barefoot Books) retells the Chinese folk tale of how each animal made it on the zodiac. The Chinese (and Vietnamese) zodiac is different from Western zodiac in that there is an animal for each year. Those born in each animal year will usually have the qualities associated with that animal. For example, those born in the year of the snake are “calm, wise, and elegant.” After you find out why the cat isn’t in the zodiac, you can look up your sign and read about your animal’s qualities.
Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn is a story about compassion and generosity. Sam’s receives is red packet of lucky money is burning a hole in his pocket as he walks through Chinatown trying to find the perfect thing to purchase. Instead the perfect thing wasn’t something you could buy. I love Lee and Low books because their stories aren’t just about the culture itself, but about the people, or in this case, the child.
The TET Pole: The Story of TET Festival by Quoc Tran retells a Vietnamese folk tale of how some villages, with the help of Buddha, manage to overthrow the devils occupying the land. The humans cleverly outsmart the hungry devils and celebrate their victory during the Lunar New Year. When I discovered this gem at my library last year, it was new to me. My mom never told me this folk tale, but of course when I brought it up to her, she was all, Yes I know that story. Bonus: This is a bilingual book, written in English and Vietnamese. Sophia loved it so much, we finally bought our own copy.
How is your family celebrating the Lunar New Year?