Stories for the Chinese New Year!

Many people around the world celebrate the Chinese New Year (sometimes referred to as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival), and we've compiled a list of colorful children's books to accompany the festivities! Whether it's hanging spring-happiness poems or the exciting awakening of the dragon, these books capture the rich sense of tradition and renewal with which families sweep out the old year and welcome the new.

Bringing in the New Year

By: Grace Lin
Age Level: 3-6

Grace Lin brings the Chinese New Year traditions to life through the eyes of a young girl and her family as they prepare for their family New Year celebration. Vivid color and bold line illustrate their planning which concludes with a dragon and noisemaking for a joyful celebration of this special Chinese festival.

Celebrate Chinese New Year

Age Level: 6-9

This outstanding introduction to the Chinese New Year from National Geographic is filled with stunning photos from China and beyond, as well as informative descriptions of different New Year traditions and activities. Whether they are reading about Shanghai, Brazil, or San Francisco, readers will enjoy learning how the festivities are celebrated around the world!

Happy New Year, Julie: 1974 (American Girl)

Illustrated by: Robert Hunt
Age Level: 6-9

Julie has some big changes to get used to in the months following her parents' divorce — especially at Christmastime! Once the stressful holidays have passed, however, she looks forward to helping her best friend Ivy and her family as they prepare for the Chinese New Year. Whether it's washing the windows, shopping in Chinatown, or folding napkins into fans for a big celebration, Julie welcomes the chance to immerse herself in Ivy's traditions — and the possibility of a fresh new start for her family.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

Illustrated by: Marc Simont
Age Level: 9-12
Language: English

Meet Shirley Temple Wong, a delightful heroine who has come from China and arrived in Brooklyn in 1947 — the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Based on the author's own experiences, the story captures the highs and lows of coming to live in a new country, learning English, and falling in love with the Brooklyn Dodgers during moments that are both heartbreaking and hilarious. A must-read for teachers working with ELLs and newcomer students.

Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan's Chinese New Year

Illustrated by: Martha Cooper
Age Level: 6-9

Ernie Wan is a young boy about to perform his first Lion Dance on the streets of New York City. This photo essay about Ernie and his family show scenes from their daily life, preparations for the dance, and the celebration itself. Ernie's excitement is contagious and the photos offer an authentic glimpse of Chinese New Year through a child's eyes.

My Chinatown

By: Kam Mak
Age Level: 6-9

It's a New Year in Chinatown, but one little boy from Hong Kong wonders, "How can it ever be a good year thousands of miles from home?" As he moves through the seasons, however, New York finally begins to feel like home. Told in verse, these poems capture the challenges of adapting to a new life from a child's point of view. Vivid paintings with a photograph-like quality bring the poems to life.

Red Is a Dragon: A Book of Colors

Illustrated by: Grace Lin
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: In this lively concept book a little girl discovers a rainbow of colors in the world around her. Red is a dragon in the Chinese New Year parade, yellow are the taxis she sees on her street, green are jade bracelets and the crunchy kale growing in her garden. Many of the featured objects are Asian in origin, and all are universal in appeal. With rich, boisterous illustrations, a fun-to-read rhyming text and an informative glossary, this colorful book will brighten every child's day!

Sam and the Lucky Money

Age Level: 6-9

Sam can't believe that he has his very own lucky money to spend while walking through Chinatown's New Year celebrations! Perhaps some sweets…or sticky buns…or a new basketball? But when Sam meets an old homeless man on the street without any shoes, he realizes that perhaps there are more important things that he can do with his lucky money. Soft watercolor paintings emphasize the emotional impact of this tale of generosity for the New Year.

The Day the Dragon Danced

Illustrated by: Carolyn Reed Barritt
Age Level: 6-9

Sugar has brought her grandmother to the Chinese New Year parade, even though Grandma isn't so sure about celebrating the New Year in February. As the parade starts, though, Grandma begins to enjoy herself…but why isn't the dragon dancing? Vibrant paintings convey the festive atmosphere as well as warmth with which a neighborhood embraces its own diverse cultural traditions.

The Runaway Rice Cake

Illustrated by: Tungwai Chau
Age Level: 6-9

"It all happened one Chinese New Year's Eve." So begins the tale of the Chang family and the rice cake that ran away! Author Ying Chang Compestine presents a magical tale from a traditional Chinese village that captures the selflessness of a humble family with three young boys — even in a time of drought. Tungwai Chau's illustrations convey the whimsy and poignancy of this holiday tale.

The Year of the Dog

By: Grace Lin
Age Level: 9-12

It's the Chinese Year of the Dog, and as Pacy celebrates with her family, she finds out that this is the year she is supposed to "find herself." Universal themes of friendship, family, and finding one's passion in life make this novel appealing to readers of all backgrounds. This funny and profound book is a wonderful debut novel by a prolific picture book author and illustrator and has all the makings of a classic.

This Next New Year

Illustrated by: Yangsook Choi
Age Level: 3-6
Language: Chinese, English, Korean

Janet Wong shares a young boy's hopes and dreams for the New Year — he has had so much bad luck in the past year, but he is certain that this year will be much luckier! A heartwarming and honest portrayal of what the chance to start over means for all of us. An author's note provides insight into her background and this festive occasion.  This book is also available in Chinese and Korean bilingual editions.