Lunar New Year Children’s Books for Every Family

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Is the new year coming? I hope so!

In these very first lines of Bringing in the New Year—one of her many Lunar New Year books for children—author Grace Lin immediately draws us into the happy buzz around preparations for the holiday. Just like the book’s illustration of a family gazing expectantly out the window, millions of children around the world will welcome January 25 with beautiful food, anticipated rituals, bright colors, and time with friends and family. The beginning of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar is often referred to as Chinese New Year, but the holiday is also celebrated in Korea, Vietnam, and other East and Southeast Asian countries. 

Whether or not you’ve ever observed Lunar New Year before, it’s hard not to get excited about its rich stories and deep-rooted traditions. If you’ve been thinking of doing something to celebrate the occasion this year, consider ways to spend a few hours of family time. To get you started, we’ve rounded up a list of Lunar New Year books you can share with your kids.

Lunar New Year Children’s Books: Picture Books and Board Books

You might like these books if:
Your kids are drawn to picture books and still ask you to read to them.

Bringing in the New YearLunar New Year children's books: Bringing in the New Year book cover by Grace Lin (ages pre-school and up)

Your kids will love looking at the bold colors and patterns in this book as they follow along with a family’s annual Lunar New Year preparations. Everyone in the family pitches in to clean, decorate, cook, and finally celebrate with fireworks, lanterns, and a colorful parade. At the end of the book, Lin includes an author’s note for parents, teachers, and children who are curious to learn more.

A New Year’s Reunion: A Chinese StoryLunar New Year children's books: A New Year's Reunion A Chinese Story book cover by Yu Li-Qiong, illustrated by Zhu Cheng-Liang (ages 3–7)

Winner of the Feng Zikai Chinese Children’s Picture Book Award (2009), this is the story of Maomao, whose father is a migrant worker and comes home only for special occasions—like Lunar New Year. Poignant prose and beautiful gouache illustrations will draw your kids into Maomao’s feelings of love, sacrifice, and joy—emotions that will resonate with any child who has family members who live far away. 

Lunar New YearLunar New Year children's books: Lunar New Year book cover by Hannah Eliot, illustrated by Alina Chau (ages 2–4)

The fourth board book in the Celebrate the World series, Lunar New Year introduces the meaning behind the holiday’s name and traditions. Kids will learn about the preparations and celebrations, the message of the new year, and the role the Chinese zodiac plays in it. The lively illustrations blend traditional images with modern ones.

Lunar New Year Children’s Books: Activity and Coloring Books

You might like these books if:
Your kids respond well to tactile learning and activities.

Lucky New Year!Lunar New Year children's books: Lucky New Year with Flaps Pop-Ups and More book cover by Mary Man-Kong, illustrated by Chi Chung (ages 3–7)

Invite your kids to discover Lunar New Year traditions through scratch and sniff stickers, wheels that turn, brooms that move, flaps, pull-tabs, pop-ups, and more. It’s Lunar New Year for all the senses. They can even share the fun with their friends and classmates.

Happy Chinese New Year Kids Coloring BookLunar New Year children's books: Happy Chinese New Year Kids Coloring Book book cover by Jack Lee (ages 3–8)

What better way to celebrate a colorful holiday than with a coloring book? Let your kids explore both Lunar New Year traditions and their own creativity with 30 pages of dragons, lanterns, fireworks, and more. 

Lunar New Year Children’s Books: Stories to Celebrate the Year of the Rat

You might like these books if:
Your kids are curious about how the Chinese zodiac brings meaning to modern lives.

The Year of the Rat: Tales from the Chinese ZodiacThe Year of the Rat- Tales from the Chinese Zodiac book cover by Oliver Chin, illustrated by Miah Alcorn (ages 5–6)

Celebrate 2020, the year of the rat, with the adventures of Ralph, a rat, and his friend, Bing, a human boy. Ralph learns more about himself—good and bad—more about others, and how to use all of the things he’s learned to save himself and his friends. Once your kids read Ralph’s story, they might be inspired to read the rest of the series, which features each animal from the zodiac.

The Year of the Rat (A Pacy Lin Novel)Lunar New Year children's books: The Year of the Rat (A Pacy Lin Novel) book cover by Grace Lin (ages 8–12)

The sequel to The Year of the Dog, also by Grace Lin, The Year of the Rat follows Pacy Lin, whose best friend Melody is moving away, leaving Pacy to face a new year, a new teacher, and new friendships on her own. Her journey includes the author’s own black-and-white drawings, which are meant to be Pacy’s.

Lunar New Year Children’s Books: Ancient Legends Behind the Holiday

You might like these books if:
Your kids like tales and characters from ancient lands.

Celebrating the Chinese New Year Celebrating the Chinese New Year book coverby Sanmu Tang, translated by Wu Ying (ages 4–8)

Kids who love fairytales and legends will be captivated by Nian, a mythical creature from ancient times who emerged at the start of each new year to try to scare the villagers. In this book—one of four in a series about Chinese celebrations—Mei’s grandfather tells her the story of Nian and about how many Chinese New Year traditions are said to have originated as methods to keep Nian away.

The Nian MonsterLunar New Year children's books: The Nian Monster book cover by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Alina Chau (ages 4–8)

A twist on the legend of Nian, this is the story of a girl named Xingling who comes across the mythical beast in modern-day Shanghai. Kids will root for Xingling as she tries to outsmart Monster Nian, who’s become wise to the old tricks, while also learning about Lunar New Year foods and traditions.

The TET Pole: The Story of TET FestivalLunar New Year children's books: The TET Pole- The Story of TET Festival book cover by Quoc Tran, illustrated by Nguyen Bich (ages 8 and up)

In Vietnam, Lunar New Year has its own traditions and celebrations—and an ancient legend behind it, too. In this book, kids learn about the Vietnamese villagers who, with the help of Buddha, outsmarted the demons who were trying to take over their land.

Lunar New Year Children’s Books: Stories Written in English and Chinese

You might like these books if:
Your kids are curious about other languages.

Chinese New Year Wishes Chinese New Year Wishes- Chinese Spring and Lantern Festival Celebration book coverby Jillian Lin, illustrated by Shi Meng (ages 4–8)

The new year is finally here and Hong can’t wait to get ready for it with his family. As kids read about Hong’s family’s preparations—told in both English and Chinese—they’ll also learn the story behind the Lunar New Year festivities. Additional facts and discussion questions are included at the end of the book.

Home for Chinese New Year: A Story Told in English and ChineseHome for Chinese New Year book cover by Wei Jie, illustrated by Xu Can (ages 4–8)

For Jia Jun, the new year means a visit from Dad, who works far away all year long. Kids follow this dad’s long journey home by train, bus, motorcycle, ferryboat, and foot through the snow, until he finally makes it home to celebrate. The story is written in both English and Chinese on every page.

Lunar New Year Children’s Books: Unique Stories for Everyone

The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year TaleThe Runaway Wok- A Chinese New Year Tale book cover by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by Sebastia Serra (ages 6–8)

In this magical tale set in Beijing, a wok comes to life and helps Ming gather food, toys, and money to bring back to his family so they can share it with their neighbors for the new year. Expansive illustrations accompany the story and the author includes a note and special recipe at the end of the book.

Sam and the Lucky MoneyLunar New Year children's books: Sam and the Lucky Money book cover by Karen Chinn, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (ages 5–8)

Sam’s story starts when he receives four dollars of lucky New Year money. As he and his mom make their way through the celebratory crowds in the streets, he sees a man in need. Should Sam give some of his money to this man or spend it on the tempting treats being sold all around him? As kids follow along with Sam, they’ll enjoy a peek into a bustling American Chinatown during Lunar New Year.

New Clothes for New Year’s DayNew Clothes for New Year's Day book cover by Hyun-joo Bae (ages 5–6)

New clothes are an important part of Lunar New Year preparations—and nobody knows this more than the young Korean girl at the heart of this story. Kids will get swept up in the excitement as she puts on her special hanbok and finds just the right accessories for the new year celebration.

This Next New YearLunar New Year children's books: This Next New Year book cover by Janet S. Wong, Illustrated by Yangsook Choi (ages 4–8)

Told in couplets, this is the story of a Chinese-Korean boy and his friends, a German-French boy and a Hopi-Mexican girl. Each child’s family celebrates Lunar New Year in its own way, proving that this is a holiday for everyone. 

Ten Mice for Tet!Ten Mice for Tet! book cover by Pegi Deitz Shea and Cynthia Weill, illustrated by To Ngoc Trang, embroidery by Pham Viet Dinh (ages pre-school to 7)

Vietnamese New Year comes to life in this bright, fun counting book. At the heart of the book is a simple introduction to the holiday’s preparations and celebrations, accompanied by embroidered illustrations that are photographed so clearly, your kids will want to reach out and touch them. Older readers will enjoy a more detailed explanation of the the ten scenes at the end of the book, complete with Vietnamese words and pronunciations. 

Whichever books you choose for your family at Lunar New Year, remember the most important part of all: celebrating every moment you spend with them. Happy Lunar New Year!

For more ideas about lunar new year books for kids, check out this list.