Chinese New Year festivities are just around the corner,
extending from February 5-19.
We’re embarking on The Year of the Pig!
Today I’ve got a set of books to introduce some of the elaborate traditions that have come to be associated with this enormously important Chinese holiday.
The Great Race: Story of the Chinese Zodiac, written and illustrated by Christopher Corr
published in 2018 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Why is 2019 the year of the pig?
How did the years come to be named after these particular 12 animals?
Discover the explanations from an ancient Chinese legend in this delightful retelling of the story, exploding with punchy color and energy.
And bonus! Find out why rats and cats are such bitter enemies! For ages 3 and up.
My First Chinese New Year, written and illustrated by Karen Katz
published in 2004 by Henry Holt
Two sisters and their extended family gather for the New Year in this darling account accessible to the youngest of celebrators!
Even though Karen Katz serves it up short and sweet, she includes quite a lot of particulars about the preparations and festivities including those enticing little red envelopes! What a happy tradition! Ages 18 months and up.
Bringing in the New Year, written and illustrated by Grace Lin
published in 2008 by Alfred A. Knopf
The text in Grace Lin’s introduction to New Year’s is also very brief.
One sentence per page pairs with her festive, charming illustrations to walk us through many traditions — spring-happiness poem banners, dumpling making, fresh hair cuts for a new year, snazzy new clothes, fireworks, lion dancers, colorful lanterns, awakened dragons.
A lengthier endnote explains some traditions with more depth. Swimming in that luckiest of colors — red! — this is perfect for ages 18 months and up.
Hiss! Pop! Boom!: Celebrating Chinese New Year, written by Tricia Morrissey, illustrated by Kong Lee
published in 2006 by Things Asian Kids
For a graceful, more descriptive survey of the holiday, reach for this lovely guide.
The legendary origins of the festival as well as many traditions are explained in short paragraphs, accompanied by Chinese calligraphy and elegant Chinese watercolor paintings.
Discover the flowers and plants families bring into their homes, the bountiful Trays of Happiness awaiting visitors, favorite foods for family gatherings, and learn a bit about brush painting and calligraphy, as well. Ages 5 and up.
D is for Dragon Dance, written by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by YongSheng Xuan
originally published in 2006; this edition 2018 by Holiday House
You won’t receive much in the way of explanation in the 26 alphabetical entries here, each associated with new year celebrations, but this is a great accompaniment for the above books.
Colorful pictures illustrate everything from acrobat to zodiac. A one-sentence description is given in English, simplified Chinese characters, and Pinyin — the transliteration of Chinese into the English alphabet — creating a satisfying albeit small dip into Chinese culture.
A few short notes on celebrating a happy new year with good fortune are included. Ages 4 and up.
I’ve featured other excellent Chinese New Year titles in the past. Each of them is definitely worth seeking out. Find the reviews by clicking on the titles.
For gobs more festive information about the 2019 Chinese New Year, check the page here.