chinese new year's books for kids, chinese new year crafts, chinese new years for kids, celebrate chinese new year

Top 10: Best Chinese New Year Books for Kids

Best Chinese New Year’s Books for Kids

Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year and Tet is February 10 in 2013. It’s the Year of the Snake.

Tet, Chinese New Year, Year of the Snake

People born in the Year of the Snake are reputed to be thoughtful and wise and to approach problems rationally and logically, seldom instinctively. Such people are complex beings, they are clever and men of few words from their birth. Their business is always going well, but they are stingy very often. They are sometimes egoistic and conceited. However they can be very active in their friends’ life. They are often too active, not believing other people and relying only on themselves. Snakes are also very insightful and naturally intuitive. If anyone has a sixth sense, it’s those born in the Snake year. This is partly what makes them so mysterious.Snakes come in all varieties of colors and patterns. And maybe that’s why people born in the Snake year love to appreciate beauty. People with the Chinese zodiac snake sign are very stylish, fashionable and have exceptional taste. from Hanban

Chinese New Year is January 23 in 2012.  It’s the Year of the Dragon.   Some people say 2012 is a Black Dragon or Water Dragon year.

People born under the Dragon are passionate, brave and self-assured. At their best they are pioneering spirits; at their worst, they epitomize the old adage: Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Dragons are generous with their resources, a tendency that at its most negative can reflect a foolhardy attitude towards money. But Dragons in general are blessed with good fortune. They are smart, enterprising and have a wicked sense of humor. They have a natural flair for fashion and are the people to consult if you want to catch up on the latest trends.

Dragon years are lucky for anyone thinking of starting a business or initiating a new project of any sort because money is easier to come by for everyone, whether it’s earned, borrowed or received as a gift. Consequently we can expect the economic downturn to ease up a bit in the coming year. Fortunes can be made but they can also be lost: Keep in mind like all good things, the Year of the Dragon will come to an end and you will be held accountable for unreasonable extravagances.

Dragons do well in professions that give them the ability to function somewhat autonomously. They make excellent sales people, publicists, political campaigners, lawyers, real estate brokers, actors and politicians.

from Chinese New Year 2012

I have to confess that I had the most boring Chinese New Year picture book that I brought out each year to do Chinese New Year event at my children’s preschools.  The actual art project was fine; I printed out these dragon masks and tongue depressor sticks and bought stick on jewel stickers from Lakeshore Learning.  The kids used markers and it was amazing how beautiful and unique each mask turned out.  But then I’d read the story.  No matter how expressive I tried to read, it was a snoozer.  Even I was bored!

I’m not sure where I picked up that book or why I didn’t get a better one, but Chinese New Year would creep up on me every year (the day always changes!) and I never seemed to be prepared.  And, in fact, it’s just that I’m the token 50% Chinese Mom that I even do this because we did NOT grow up celebrating Chinese New Year’s. I think my parents were just too busy and my Japanese mother celebrated New Year’s on the first of the year as they do in Japan.

But, if I had a chance to do a “do over,” I’d replace my boring book with one of these and I vow to get better ones into my house for my kids (which is why I posted on this for purely selfish reasons).

p.s. Here’s instructions on how to make your own Chinese Gong, Chinese Zodiac animal cut-outs and a chart to look up your Chinese Astrological sign  from DariaMusic.

p.p.s. I’ve updated my list with Top 15 Wonderful Chinese New Year Picture Books.

chinese new year books for kids


Honorable Mentions

Bella’s Chinese New Year by Stacey Zolt Hara, illustrated by Steve Pileggi

I met Stacey on Twitter; it turns out we both like multicultural books. As we tweeted back and forth, I discovered she wrote a book herself. What I like about Bella’s Chinese New Year is that this is a Caucasian girl who lives in Singapore celebrating Chinese New Year at her school. The fact that Bella is a real person who does actually live in Singapore makes it even more fun. The only thing I wish I could change is the font. I hate the font. There are additional fun activities if you click on the author’s link. [picture book, ages 4-8]

Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn, Cornelius Van Wright (Illustrator), Ying-Hwa Hu (Illustrator)

Sam receives four bright red envelopes decorated with shiny gold emblems as part of the traditionalChinese New Year celebration, each containing a dollar. He accompanies his mother through Chinatown – and realizes that the “lucky money” won’t buy as much as he had hoped. His mood is further sobered after an encounter with a man he stumbles upon in the street. He nobly, though not surprisingly, concludes that his four dollars would be best spent on the barefoot stranger. Detailed descriptions of the sights and sounds of the Chinese New Year celebration build in contrast to Sam’s growing introspection, becoming even more dramatic and adding to the depth of the story.

Sam and the Lucky Money best chinese new years books for kids children Pragmatic Mom PragmaticMom
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
This exuberant story follows a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Each member of the family lends a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings. Then it’s time to put on new clothes and celebrate with family and friends. There will be fireworks and lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a great, long dragon parade to help bring in the Lunar New Year. And the dragon parade in our book is extra long–on a surprise fold-out page at the end of the story. Grace Lin’s artwork is a bright and gloriously patterned celebration in itself! And her story is tailor-made for reading aloud. [picture book, ages 3 and up]


10.  The Great Race:  The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey

This is the story that explains the animal sequence of the Chinese Zodiac as well as why cats hate rats.  [picture book, ages 4-8]

9. Dragon Dance – A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap Book by Joan Holub, Benrei Huang

Introduce the customs of Chinese New Year including eating a celebratory dinner, receiving red envelopes, and watching a parade to the youngest readers with this festive lift-the-flap book. [lift the flap picture book, ages 2-8]

8.  The Year of the Tiger:  Tales from the Chinese Zodiac by Oliver Chin

A quirky tale that is 2 parts The Lion King cub and 1 part kumbaya (can’t we all just get along?!). Chin take the Chinese Zodiac traits of the Tiger and marries it into a story.   According to the Chinese Zodiac, tigers are brave, powerful and daring.  They get along with Horses and Dogs.   [picture book, ages 4-8]

7. Celebrating Chinese New Year:  An Activity Book by Hingman Chan

Celebrating Chinese New Year is a fun-filled craft, activity and resource book for the Chinese New Year. In addition to basic facts and history of the Chinese New Year, you can make a dragon parade, a paper lantern, and red lucky envelopes following simple directions and examples in this activity book. You will also have fun learning about your Chinese Zodiac signs. This classroom tested copy-ready activity book is an excellent resource for parents and teachers with children ages 5 to 10. [activity book, ages 5-10]

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

This brightly illustrated, large-format book introduces Chinese New Year and the Lantern FestivalQing Ming and the Cold Foods Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Each section explains the holiday, tells stories related to it, and offers at least one activity and one recipe. [picture book, ages 4-8]

5.The Dancing Dragon by Marcia K. Vaughan, Stanley Wong Hoo Foon (Illustrator)

A rhyming story. A Chinese-American child describes the excitement, preparation, and festivities of the Chinese New Year, culminating in a parade that includes a magnificent dragon carried aloft on sticks. [picture book, ages 4-8]

4.  The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin

Dogs are loyal, affectionate and generous.  They get along well with Tigers and Horses. [chapter book, ages 8-12]

3.  The Year of the Rat by Grace Lin

Rats are clever, ambitious and quick-witted.  They get along well with Dragons and Monkeys. [chapter book, ages 8-12]

2. The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Betty Bao Lord

Ten-year-old Bandit Wong emigrates to America in 1947 from China and assimilates into the Chinese-American Shirley Temple Wong. [chapter book, ages 8-12]
The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson Asian American Children's Books best Pragmatic Mom PragmaticMom

1. This Next New Year by Janet S. Wong, illustrated by Yangsook Choi

A young boy looks forward to Chinese New Year – also known as the Lunar New Year, the day of the first new moon. It is a time of hope, and you don’t have to be Chinese to celebrate it! His best friend, Glenn, who is French and German, and his cousin Evelyn, part Hopi and part Mexican, like the food and the envelopes of money, while he celebrates the fresh start the day offers. He cleans the house to make room for luck, and is glad the palms of his hands itch – that means he is coming into money. Most of all, he vows not to say things such as “can’t do / don’t have / why me” because he has dreams he is ready to make come true. Janet S. Wong’s spare, lyrical couplets voice a child’s determination to face the new year with courage and optimism. Yangsook Choi captures the spirit of celebration in her vibrant, energetic pictures.


p.s. Here are a few more Chinese New Year posts:

Chinese New Year Crafts and Activities for Kids

Chinese New Year Red Envelope Crafts and Background

To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book

chinese new year's books for kids, chinese new year crafts, chinese new years for kids, celebrate chinese new year

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Ann

    Your selfish reasons are a win-win! We have The Great Race and kids and I love it – we really like Barefoot Books. I want to check out Bringing in the New Year – We just took Where the Mountain Meets the Moon out of the library!

    • To Ann,
      Thanks so much! Those Barefoot Books are really great! We are enjoying a pile of them too! Let me know what you think of Bringing in the New Year … and I’m sure you will LOVE Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. I haven’t met a single soul who didn’t love it.

  2. Danielle

    Thanks for the suggestions – I’m always looking to expand my storytime repertoire! Have you read The Paper Dragon by Marguerite Davol & illustrated by Robert Sabuda?

  3. I love Grace Lin’s books and will check out your other recommendations. Great resource!

  4. I had no idea that there were so many great books about Chinese New Year! Thanks for sharing this list, Mia!
    Katie recently posted…Picture Books for Valentine’s DayMy Profile

  5. Thanks for sharing on the After School Link-Up! I am featuring your post this week on Parent Teach Play: Please feel free to stop by and grab a featured button. Off to pin. Thanks again!!

  6. Renee C.

    What a great list! In Vancouver (where we live) there is a huge population of Chinese people. I once saw statistics that 1/3 of the population of Vancouver is Chinese! Not sure how accurate that is, but importantly, Chinese New Year is HUGE in Vancouver. They have a beautiful parade every year (it’s taking place next weekend) and the city just comes alive for the festivities. The kids always partake in many activities at school as well including being read many, many stories. In short…it’s a big deal here!

    Thanks for co-hosting the Kid Lit Blog Hop Mia! Hope you’ve made some new friends. 🙂
    Renee C. recently posted…Book Review: Manner-Man by Sherrill S. CannonMy Profile

    • Hi Renee,
      I didn’t know you live in Vancouver! I love your city! My brother lived there for 2 years for work 20 years ago. It is such a beautiful city! We went to Victoria Island and Bamf (I am misspelling it). I loved the Bouchard Gardens too!

      Yes, huge population of Chinese in Vancouver. The wealthy Hong Kong population fled to Vancouver before the takeover. If you invested a certain amount of money $500k and create 2 jobs or $1 million back then in Canada (or something like that), you could get Citizenship or a work visa. I think that contributed to the high Chinese national population.

      Glad you liked the Chinese New Year books! I needed to find better ones after using this really boring one for years at home!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Heart Smart for FebruaryMy Profile

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