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The Chinese or Lunar New Year begins on February 16th this year. 2018 marks the Year of the Dog.
Once the Christmas picture books are packed away, I generally crack open the tub of Chinese New Year picture books for the kids.
Here are some of our favourite Chinese New Year picture books for kids.
This book tells the story of Fang Fang who was born in China but now is Australian. Fang Fang invites her friend Lisa to celebrate Chinese New Year and is embarrassed by all the different traditions. She fears that Lisa will think that all the traditions are strange and silly. On the contrary, Lisa is excited and entranced by all the celebrations.
A great story about Chinese New Year in the Australian context that gently explores the themes of tolerance and diversity.
Did you know that there are over 100 million migrant workers in China? Many of whom work hundreds or thousands of miles away from home, only returning each year for Chinese New Year.
This is the fictional tale of one family whose patriarch works far from home.
He returns for Chinese New Year bearing gifts, hugs and a beard. Maomao hardly recognises him.
Before long, Maomao and her family are enjoying each other’s company and the festivities of the New Year.
After a fewe short, love-soaked days, it is time for Papa to travel away again for work.
This is a bittersweet portrayal of the demands of modern family life in China that also showcases New Year traditions.
Definitely one of my top picks out of this list.
Christopher Corr’s glorious illustrative style bring the animals of the Chinese zodiac to life.
This re-imagining of an ancient folk tale explains how each animal earned their place in the Chinese calendar whilst also showcasing the characteristics associated with each animal.
Goldy Luck, born in the year of the Gold Dragon (the luckiest of them all), is a bit of a klutz. Her mum asks her to take a plate of turnip cakes to the Chans’ apartment for Chinese New Year. No one is home and Goldy Luck does all the things Goldilocks did, but with a Chinese twist. She eats Little Chan’s congee (rice porridge), she breaks his rocking chair (foregoing Daddy Chan’s massage chair) and falls asleep on Little Chan’s futon.
The illustrations have beautiful little nods to Chinese tradition and customs- as she enters their house we see the shoes lined up neatly by the door next to the house slippers; a fortune plant stands in the entrance way; the rug on this spread features the animals of the zodiac. The book ends with an explanation of some CNY symbols and traditions and we are left with a recipe for turnip cakes. This is one of my new fave CNY reads.
My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz
This is a colourful and cheerful text that introduces young readers to the festivities and traditions of New Year.
We follow one little girl and her family as she learns about we welcome in the New Year.
(Not available on Booktopia.)
We do try to limit screen time round here, but my kids are diehard Curious George fans.
Needless to say, they adore this book.
George and Marco meet Lily, who is preparing to perform the dragon dance for Chinese New Year.
Lily teaches them about the traditions of the New Year. When disaster strikes and Lily’s cousins can’t perform the dragon dance with her, she has two perfect accomplices.
This is a sweet tale of an unlikely friendship between a mouse and a carved wooden dragon that comes to life one New Year’s night.
On nights with a full moon, and thanks to a magic whistle, the dragon and mouse go on great flying adventures.
The spreads showing Hong Kong harbour are gorgeous!
(Not available on Booktopia.)
A simple and bright text introducing the traditions of Chinese New Year. We follow a family as they prepare for the start of celebrations. They hang lanterns, watch the dragon dance and celebrate with a feast.
This text colourfully depicts the traditions that families follow in the lead-up to Chinese New Year. Celebrations culminate in the dragon dance that is depicted on a fold-out page. Colourful and simple.
Animal Myths by Hong Kong Kids edited by Judy Butler
This book is a bit tricky to source online. My dad and sister returned with it from a trip to Hong Kong. It contains seventeen stories written by kids aged 6-13 creatively explaining why the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac look the way they do today. Edited by their teacher, Judy Butler, each spread contains illustrations completed by the students, their creative tale and a blurb about the student author. On this spread you can read about “Why Roosters Have Beautiful Tail Feathers” by 6-year-old Querida, whose favourite drink is a banana Coke float. We also learn that pink is her favourite colour and she wants to be a lawyer when she grows up.
The parents of the students shared the cost of publication and all proceeds go to Room to Read which seeks to change the lives of children though literacy. Well worth trying to get your hands on. Perhaps a good excuse for a trip to HK?
This is a beautifully simple informational text that provides a great and interesting overview of Chinese/ Lunar New Year traditions and rituals.
Happy Year of the Dog, everybody! Are there any Chinese New Year books you’d recommend?
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