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Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year

Originally published January 2024

For millions of people around the world, the Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays. It is a time to be with family, enjoy mouthwatering meals, and honour ancestors, all while marking the passing of the previous year and the coming of a new one. Often, traditions are centred around abundance and prosperity, emphasizing the necessity of attracting good fortune for the year ahead.

In 2024, the new year begins on February 10, marking the year of the dragon on the Chinese zodiac. The dragon is the most celebrated animal in Chinese culture, symbolizing power, luck, and success. In honour of this auspicious year, we’ve handpicked a dazzling array of books for you to share with your students.

Note: Many cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year in diverse and unique ways, on a variety of dates that come from different lunar calendars (such as Ugadi in several states across India, or the Islamic New Year). For the purposes of this list, we’ve chosen a selection of books that focus on East Asian countries whose Lunar New Years are based on interpretations of the Chinese calendar. Take a look!

Dragon’s Dilemma by Catherine Little, illustrated by Sae Kimura
Plumleaf Press (January 2024)
Grade Level: K–4

In this magnificent picture book, written by educator Catherine Little, students will learn about the origins of the Chinese Zodiac. Twelve animals are lining up to compete in the Emperor’s Great Race. The dragon is the biggest and fastest of all the animals. He’s also the only one that can fly. But does that mean he’ll be the first to cross the finish line?

Grace’s Chinese New Year
By Jackie Huang
Random House Books for Young Readers (December 2023)
Grade Level: K–1

It’s time for parades, lion dancers, and firecrackers—Chinese New Year is almost here! Grace and her family are getting ready for the festivities. Through a combination of fun illustrations, basic vocabulary, and short sentences, early readers can follow along as the family hangs lanterns, prepares dumplings, and more.

A Kid’s Guide to the Chinese Zodiac: Animal Horoscopes, Legendary Myths, and Practical Uses for Ancient Wisdom
By Aaron Hwang
Illustrated by Qu Lan
Running Press Kids (December 2023)
Grade Level: 3–7

Kids can learn about the history of the Chinese zodiac through this mystical, brightly illustrated guide. Along with offering practical advice based on the qualities associated with each zodiac animal, the book also includes sidebars about Chinese myth and culture, making it a perfect read to help ring in the Lunar New Year.

The Lucky Red Envelope: A lift-the-flap Lunar New Year Celebration
By Vikki Zhang
Wide Eyed Editions (December 2023)
Grade Level: K–2

Little Yue is helping her family decorate the house as they get ready to celebrate the Lunar New Year. The Lucky Red Envelope features 12 gorgeous full-page spreads with plenty of lift flaps offering a multi-sensory, interactive experience. This book is sure to delight and amaze young readers, while simultaneously introducing them, through Yue’s eyes, to the important traditions and rituals that go along with the biggest festival of the Chinese calendar.

Lunar New Year
By Natasha Yim
Illustrated by Jingting Wang
words & pictures (November 2023)
Grade Level: K–2

In Lunar New Year, sisters Ling and Mei invite readers into their home to show first-hand how to prepare for the Lunar New Year Festival. Join them as they clean the house, visit friends and family, and carry red lanterns through their neighbourhood. The book also includes 16 additional pages of facts about the Lunar New Year, along with several hands-on activities such as making red envelopes.

The Lunar New Year Surprise
By Jade Wang
Illustrated by Tammy Do
Soaring Kite Books (November 2023)
Grade Level: 3–7

It’s the first day of the Lunar New Year, and Gege can’t wait to give his little sister Meimei her holiday present! As readers get caught up in the whirlwind of Gege’s excitement, they will discover just what makes the Lunar New Year so special. Throughout the pages of this book, Jade Wang and Tammy Do also share some of the mouth-watering dishes that are prepared for New Year celebrations around the world, from Tibet to Taiwan to Korea, and more! 

Lunar New Year Love Story
By Gene Luen Yang
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
First Second (January 2024)
Grade Level: 8–12

This heartwarming graphic novel is centred around fate, family, and the magic of Lunar New Year. Val has been feeling pretty down about love. She’s had some bad experiences in the past and is starting to think that maybe her family is cursed when it comes to relationships. But then something unexpected happens—she meets a charming lion dancer and feels hopeful again. Could this be the start of something real? She’s not sure, but she’s willing to take a chance and see where things go. After all, everyone deserves a shot at happiness, right?

Tory and Andy: Our Three New Years
By Cynthia Cheng Mintz
Illustrated by Sari Richter
FriesenPress (November 2023)
Grade Level: K–2

Twins Tory and Andy celebrate three different New Years: Rosh Hashanah in September/October, the end of the calendar year in December, and Lunar New Year in January/February. Young readers will delight in learning about all the different traditions and yummy foods that go along with each event in this fun and modern interfaith story.

The Twelve Animals of the Chinese Zodiac: Traditional Fables in Chinese and English
By Vivian Ling and Wang Peng
Illustrated by Yang Xi
Tuttle Publishing (October 2023)
Grade Level: 2–6

This bilingual book contains a collection of folktales about the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. Each story features plenty of lively illustrations and teaches children a valuable lesson, while the book as a whole showcases the rich cultural heritage of China to young readers.

Two New Years
By Richard Ho
Illustrated by Lynn Scurfield
Chronicle Books (August 2023)
Grade Level: K–1

In Two New Years, experience the beauty of different New Year traditions and the rich blends of cultures. The reader will follow along with a family who celebrates Rosh Hashanah in the fall and Lunar New Year in the spring, learning about the practices and values that go along with each. This vibrantly illustrated book is a perfect way to get students thinking about the values of family and hope.

Wish Soup: A Celebration of Seollal
By Junghwa Park
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (December 2023)
Grade Level: K–3

Wish Soup focuses on a traditional Korean rice soup called tteokguk that’s enjoyed on Seollal—Korean New Year. Each bowl is said to make the person who eats it one year older, and this year Sohee wants to eat as many as she can in order to finally become an eonni, or “big girl,” to her younger cousins. What follows is a series of hilarious setbacks as Sohee’s plan keeps getting interrupted by holiday-related chores. This picture book is a funny and whimsical celebration of Korean Lunar New Year, the importance of family, and what it means to have big girl responsibilities.