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Spring Festival: Top 8 Children’s book for Lunar/Chinese New Year

Spring Festival, or normally known as Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, is one of the oldest festivals in Chinese culture. Chinese and non-Chinese alike all over the world come together in celebration with dumplings, lion dances, new clothes, feasts and more. To introduce this festival to you and your little ones, I have included some basic information about it and a list of top children’s books around the theme.

Introduction to Chinese New Year

When?

First day of the first month on the lunar calendar, so it is on a different day every year.

What?
The most important festival and celebration in China and across South East Asia, it celebrates reunion, happiness, farewell to the past and welcoming the new year. The customs start before the new year day with housekeeping on the 28th day of the last month and family reunion dinner on the new year’s eve. Then starting from the new year day, people celebrate with a variety of activities from fireworks and lion dance to gathering with family and friends, making dumplings and giving red envelopes. It goes all the way till the 15th day of the first month and ends with appreciation of the full moon night which symbolises reunion.

Chinese name
春节 Chun Jié (Qhun-jeh)
春 (Spring); 节 (Festival)

Customs
烟花 – Yānhuā (Yen hwa) Fireworks
烟 (Fire); 花 (Flower)
Lanterns hold a strong symbolic meaning in Chinese culture; letting go of the past and good fortune.

红包 – Hóngbāo (Hong bow) Red envelope
红(Red); 包 (Envelope)
A red envelope containing money is given to children.

Origins
年 – Nián (Nee-an)
According to Chinese mythology, Spring Festival began from a fight with a mythical creature called ‘Nian’. Nian would come on the first day of the new year and eat the villagers’ livestock and children. But the villagers soon realised it feared the colour red so began decorating lanterns red and using firecrackers to scare it away.

Top 8 Children’s books about the Spring Festival

1. Chelsea’s Chinese New Year (Cloverleaf Books Holidays and Special Days) (4.07/5)

by Lisa Bullard (Author), Katie Saunders (Illustrator)

Chelsea's Chinese New Year | One Dear World: Book Review

Chelsea and her Chinese-American family are busy preparing for the upcoming New Year by cleaning, decorating, and visiting relatives. They also stay up late to celebrate the New Year by lighting fireworks and participate in a parade that has a Chinese dragon costume. This book emphasises the cultural differences between Western culture and the Chinese culture, and how these celebrations vary in China and the U.S. Children from more than one culture can relate to the story easily and it would make them feel comfortable about themselves and encourage them to embrace their culture.

2. A New Year’s Reunion: A Chinese Story (4.03/5)
by Yu Li-Qiong (Author), Zhu Cheng-Liang (Illustrator)

A New Year's Reunion | One Dear World: Book Review

A New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2011! The book reflects a unique family situation in China where father or even both parents work all year long away from their children and go home only for the Chinese New Year. Not only does this vibrantly illustrated tale helps children in the rest of the world understand how Chinese people celebrate their New Year, but also resonates with every child who misses relatives when they are away–and shows how a family’s love is strong enough to endure over time and distance.

3. Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year: With Fireworks, Dragons, and Lanterns (4.0/5)
by Carolyn Otto (Author)

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year: With Fireworks, Dragons, and Lanterns | One Dear World: Book Review

“Celebrate Chinese New Year” continues the spectacular “Holidays Around the World” series by looking at this child-friendly holiday. Using fairly brief text and approximately 25 fabulous photographs, the book gives a flavour for the holiday as it is celebrated around the world. “Celebrate Chinese New Year” focuses on historical and cultural aspects of the holiday: traditions, food, types of celebration. The extensive back matter includes fun facts; a recipe; a map showing the locations of the photographs in the book; a resource list of books, videos, and Web sites; and a note from an expert consultant. This note, aimed at parents and teachers, helps put “Chinese New Year” in a greater cultural and historic context.

4. Lanterns and Firecrackers: A Chinese New Year Story (3.94/5)
by Jonny Zucker, Jan Barger Cohen (Illustrator)

Lanterns and Firecrackers | One Dear World: Book Review

A Chinese family prepares for their New Year festivities they decorate the house with flowers, then set off firecrackers to scare away bad spirits and welcome the coming year. Family and friends sit down together for a festive dinner, then go outside to watch the parade of dragon dancers. The festival ends on its final night with a display of coloured lanterns. Festival Time books depict the activities of typical families, as Mom, Dad, and children celebrate holidays that have special religious or cultural significance for them. Cheerfully attractive colour illustrations supplement a simply-told story of the holiday’s origins and a description of the festivities that are part of that holiday. Festival Time books can be read aloud to toddlers, but are easy enough for many first and second graders to read to themselves.

5. Bringing in the New Year (3.83/5)
by Grace Lin

Bringing in the New Year | One Dear World: Book Review

This exuberant story follows a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Each member of the family lends a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings. Then it’s time to put on new clothes and celebrate with family and friends. There will be fireworks and lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a great, long dragon parade to help bring in the Lunar New Year. And the dragon parade in our book is extra long–on a surprise fold-out page at the end of the story. Grace Lin’s artwork is a bright and gloriously patterned celebration in itself! And her story is tailor-made for reading aloud.

6. Great Race (3.83/5)
by Dawn Casey (Author), Anne Wilson (Illustrator)

The Great Race | One Dear World: Book Review

I think all children naturally like animals and there is no better way to introduce the 12 Chinese Zodiac than telling them this story about thirteen creatures’ race to compete for a place in Emperor’s new calendar! Join Rat, Monkey, Dragon and all the others in this exciting race to the finish. You can also find your Chinese zodiac sign and your children’s one after the story too!

7. My first Chinese New Year (3.76/5)
by Karen Katz

My First Chinese New Year | One Dear World: Book Review

Chinese New Year is like Christmas in Chinese culture. See the festival from a little girl’s point of view as she learns how to welcome the coming year and experience all the festivities surrounding it. Karen Katz’s warm and lively introduction to a special holiday will make even the youngest child want to start a Chinese New Year tradition!

8. Chinese New Year Crafts (3.5/5)
by Karen E. Bledsoe

Chinese New Year Crafts | One Dear World: Book Review

Join the Lunar New Year celebration by making fun crafts! Follow these easy-to-follow directions and traceable patterns to create a dragon costume, ribbon lantern, Chinese papercuts, and more!

 

Have you got other better books in mind? Please feel free to share your comments below and let me know what you think!