Celebrating the Chinese New Year with Children’s Books

Did you know next Friday, January 31, 2014, is the start of the Chinese New Year? Now is the time to clean, cook, decorate and get a hair cut in order to be ready for the coming of the Year of the Horse.

Today I have four older nonfiction books about the Chinese New Year. Throughout the week there will be reviews of two new fiction picture books celebrating Chinese culture, as well as suggestions for crafts and activities.


Let’s start out with Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year: With Fireworks, Dragons, and Lanterns by Carolyn Otto. Part of National Geographic’s popular Holidays Around the World series, expect bright, colorful photographs and accurate explanations of the various traditions. For example, the book explains that the Chinese New Year starts on the first new moon of the year, following the lunar cycle. In the past the celebrations continued to the full moon, or for 15 days. In modern times the festival is often shortened to a week or less.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books (January 13, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1426303815
ISBN-13: 978-1426303814


Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes by Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz, and the Children’s Museum, Boston, with illustrations by Meilo So explores five traditional Chinese festivals, starting with the Chinese New Year. On the 15th day, or the end of the New Year’s celebration, is the Lantern Festival. The book also includes chapters on the Cold Foods Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn-Moon Festival. It is packed full of stories, as well as traditional activities and recipes. Fun and learning for the whole year!

Age Range: 8+ years
Hardcover: 80 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 1, 2002)
ISBN-10: 0152019839
ISBN-13: 978-0152019839

Happy New Year-Demi

Happy New Year! / Kung-Hsi Fa-Ts’ai! by Demi is also sold as Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! in a newer, shorter edition.

Demi has a unique style. Don’t expect text in boxes, because Demi’s text flows with the illustrations. Each two-page spread covers a single topic, such as “The Animal Zodiac,” “Sweep and Dust,” and “Decorate!” I particularly enjoyed the “Trees and Flowers!” because it shows what various plants symbolize to the Chinese.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Dragonfly Books; Bilingual edition (December 28, 1999)
ISBN-10: 0517885921
ISBN-13: 978-0517885925

Chinese New Year Crafts

Chinese New Year Crafts by Karen E. Bledsoe is a simple introduction to the Chinese New Year through craft projects. What New Year celebration would be complete without a dragon puppet or costume?

Age Range: 7 and up
Publisher: Enslow Elementary (April 1, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0766023478
ISBN-13: 978-0766023475

Looking for more books and craft ideas? Try my Chinese New Year Crafts Pinterest board.

orangesSharing oranges is a Chinese New Year tradition.

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Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. Join us at the new Nonfiction Monday blog.