Chinese New Year is a wonderfully rich celebration. The feeling is one of renewal and new beginnings. The holiday color is red, symbolizing happiness. There is warmth with family and friends. What a great way to introduce a little bit of culture to my sons. Books are one way of introducing children to this occasion. So I went searching on Amazon.com and within Seattle's library system. After vetting quite a few books, I thought I'd share with you the Chinese New Year Books for Kids that we most truly enjoy reading together.
Chinese New Year Books for Kids
The Dancing Dragon by Marcia Vaughan
This book is exciting for kids for many reasons, the colorful and lively illustrations, the food but most of all this book is “accordion” style. So, the book folds out to a gorgeous dragon, the dragon that is carried at the culminating parade. Accordion aside, the story is told in a beautiful rhythm that captures young children's attention. The book describes various traditions of the New Year (e.g. “We clean the house and sweep the floor.”) but does not go into any detail of the symbolism or reason behind these traditions (e.g. sweeping = out with the bad luck, making room for the good luck, etc). There is no further information provided to the adult reading the book so you may have to look elsewhere for further explanation for you and your child.
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
I adore Grace Lin's books and this book is an example of another success. It tells the story of a family preparing and participating in the Chinese New Year. The story gives very clear explanations of many aspects of the tradition with simple text for children to understand and inquire about. The illustrations include Chinese characters, are friendly, colorful, and inviting to kids and adults. You and your child will learn important aspects of the holiday including reasons behind the food involved in the celebration, costumes, decorations, and health and wellness traditions. The end of the book also included further explanation of the holiday, which as an adult learning about this tradition I appreciated very much.
My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz
Adorably illustrated, of course, Karen Katz once again succeeds with this simple, sweet story told from the perspective of a young Chinese girl. I appreciated the further explanation at the end of the book describing in more detail the history behind the holiday. The story provides simply explanations as this young girl prepares for the holiday. For example, the symbolism with the color red, sweeping away bag luck, foods, haircuts and the giving of small red envelopes with the Chinese character meaning “luck” decorating the envelope.
Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey
One other books that we're waiting for from the library is called Lanterns and Firecrackers: A Chinese New Year Story (Festival Time). From what I have read about it, this story is also very effective with children. So give it a go!
What are your favorite ways to celebrate Chinese New Year?
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