Own Voices Books for Chinese New Year
Learn about Chinese New Year with these wonderful Own Voices books! What are Own Voices books? These are books that are created by a person from the culture featured in the book. So in this case, all of these books for Chinese New Year are written by Chinese or Chinese-American authors, and they frequently are illustrated by a Chinese or Chinese-American artist as well.
You’ll notice that I’ve used the term “Chinese New Year,” rather than “Lunar New Year.” As explained in this interview with author Maria Wen Adcock (see below for her book), Lunar New Year is the umbrella term for celebrations in a number of countries, such as Vietnam and Korea. “Chinese New Year” refers specifically to New Year customs and traditions that originated in China, as is the case for all of the books included here.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Own Voices Books for Chinese New Year
Enjoy these Own Voices books for Chinese New Year!
The tabbed board book It’s Chinese New Year, Curious George is perfect for any fans of this adorable little monkey! It is part of a series of Curious George books that introduce children to different holidays, such as Ramadan and Hanukkah. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s a board book: Although it is sturdy enough for little readers, who will delight in the colorful illustrations (and Curious George, of course), It’s Chinese New Year, Curious George is also perfect for older children, who will appreciate the wealth of information, shared in an attractive format with rhyming text. This is the first published book from author Maria Wen Adcock, but it won’t be her last! We can’t wait to see what she’ll do next!
Celebrating Chinese New Year: History, Traditions, and Activities is a wonderful, comprehensive guide to Chinese New Year for older kids. This colorful book is packed full of information about the history and traditions of the holiday, with lots of fun facts sprinkled throughout. It also has hands on activities, including a recipe, crafts, and a game! It even has an overview of how to prepare for Chinese New Year and what to do on each of the 15 days it lasts. I love that it also takes a look at the different ways Chinese New Year is celebrated around the world, from Beijing to San Francisco, Sydney, and Paris! This book make a great addition to a classroom or homeschool.
Playing with Lanterns showcases a tradition from northwestern China that has ancient roots. A young girl is gifted a lantern from her uncle during Chinese New Year and enjoys playing with it with her friends on the snowy nights. But on the last night, she and her friends must smash and burn the lanterns, or they will bring bad luck to their uncles! A wonderful look at this unique Chinese New Year tradition from a young child’s perspective, and all the happy memories she creates with her friends.
The Tray of Togetherness is a loving tribute to one of the author’s favorite Chinese New Year traditions: a tray of sweets offered to guests. The book captures the joy and excitement of the young narrator as her family prepares for the holiday, emphasizing Lunar New Year’s importance in bringing people together. The book also explains the symbolism behind different traditions, especially the sweets included in the tray. With simple text and colorful images, The Tray of Togetherness is a wonderful picture book for younger children.
New Year is a poignant book about growing up and learning to let go. As Chinese New Year approaches, a father in Beijing dreams of his adult daughter, now living in Paris. He remembers the New Years they celebrated together when she was young. His sense of loss is keen, especially during the holiday, but he also accepts that she is grown now and living her own life with her husband. A beautiful tribute to family and how relationships change over time, best for older children because of the subject matter and amount of text.
Ren just wants to help get ready for Lunar New Year, but whether it’s hanging up decorations or folding dumplings, she is repeatedly told she is still too little! Luckily, her older brother takes the time to bake a special pineapple cake with her, not minding when her fingers slip or she needs extra help. A Sweet New Year for Ren is inspired by the author’s Chinese heritage and stories from her father’s childhood. Includes a recipe for pineapple cake.
Friends Are Friends Forever is a sweet testament to the power of friendship to transcend culture. It is based on the author’s own story of moving from China to the US as a girl, and how a friendship helped ease her transition, echoing back to the friend she had to leave behind in China. The book shares Chinese New Year traditions particular to northeastern China, such as making snowflake cutouts into ice ornaments! A wonderful lesson to children about how kindness and empathy can help bridge differences.
The Night Before Lunar New Year is part of a series of “Night Before” books, such as The Night Before Valentine’s Day. It is a lovely, lyrical look at a family preparing for Chinese New Year, with traditions such as cleaning house and getting hair cuts. But the little girl is worried about all of the loud noises that come with the celebrations. Will she find a way to enjoy the festivities?
Alex’s Good Fortune is an adorable introduction to Chinese New Year, as Alex shares the holiday with her friend Ethan. As the family celebrates, Alex explains the traditions to her friend, including the meaning behind the various dishes served. Ethan even helps out with Alex’s least favorite part – cleaning! A charming story sure to engage younger readers. Back matter has more in-depth explanations, including the zodiac signs and how to say traditional Chinese New Year wishes.