Our Favorite 15 Books to Read With Your Kids About Chinese New Year

Updated Jan. 27, 2019

Whether or not you culturally celebrate Chinese New Year, reading children's books about Chinese New Year can open your children's eyes (and yours!) to the amazing culture and traditions that are a part of this holiday that is so special to so many. In fact, as you learn more, you may just feel inspired to celebrate (even a little) in your own home this year, whether that be with the food (dumplings, noodles and rice cakes! oh my!), red envelopes filled with money, or giving everything a good new year's cleaning. In preparation for Chinese New Year this year, we've been reading a lot of books about Chinese New Year, and these are some of our favorites—we hope you enjoy the stories as well as the education!

The Nian Monster book
The Nian Monster
Written by Andrea Wang and illustrated by Alina Chau
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

A clever little girl outsmarts the Nian monster, who is no longer scared away by the loud noises, fire and color red that have kept him at bay for so long, with the help of her community and some very special New Years' traditions. I love the critical thinking and problem solving it demonstrates, the traditional (almost folk-talesy) way it's told, and of course, the beautiful illustrations.

Tong tong! The legendary Nian monster has returned at Chinese New Year. With horns, scales, and wide, wicked jaws, Nian is intent on devouring Shanghai, starting with Xingling! The old tricks to keep him away don't work on Nian anymore, but Xingling is clever. Will her quick thinking be enough to save the city from the Nian Monster?

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas book
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas
Written by Natasha Yim and illustrated by Grace Zong
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

This book is an adorable parody of Goldilocks and the three bears for the Chinese New Year. I especially loved all the subtle references to Chinese New Year's traditions strewn throughout and that Goldi comes back to rectify her mistakes and make a few friends as well.

In this Chinese American retelling of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” a careless Goldy Luck wreaks havoc on the home of a family of panda bears. She eats up the littlest panda’s rice porridge, breaks his rocking chair, and rumples all the blankets on his futon. When Goldy takes responsibility for her actions, she makes a new friend (and a whole plate of turnip cakes!) just in time for Chinese New Year.

The Dancing Dragon book
The Dancing Dragon
Written by Marcia K. Vaughan and illustrated by Stanley Wong Hoo Foon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

This is a great book. It seemed to go through all of the traditions of Chinese New Year's celebrations. I didn't know much about their celebrations or why they do what they do so this was a fun book that taught me some of these things. It has fun rhymes and nice illustrations.

A rhyming story that describes a typical Chinese New Year celebration.

Sam and the Lucky Money book
Sam and the Lucky Money
Written by Karen Chin and illustrated by Ying-hwa Hu, Cornelius Van Wright
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This story about what a boy chooses to do with his lucky money he received from Chinese New Year is heartwarming. The overall message was great, with Sam realizing how lucky he is and wanting to help another. This book does have a little more text per page, so I'd recommend it for slightly older children who like to sit still for a little bit longer stories. :)

Sam must decide how to spend the lucky money he's received for Chinese New Year.

Ruby's Chinese New Year book
Ruby's Chinese New Year
Written by Vickie Lee and illustrated by Joey Chou
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

The illustrations in this one are amazing—cute, colorful and modern! It introduces you to the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac as Ruby goes on a journey to her grandmother's house to celebrate Chinese New Year, as well as many of the elements that make up a traditional Chinese New Year celebration. I loved that it emphasized that the most important part isn't the gifts, but the quality time spent together with family and friends.

In this picture book celebrating Chinese New Year, animals from the Chinese zodiac help a little girl deliver a gift to her grandmother. Ruby has a special card to give to her grandmother for Chinese New Year. But who will help her get to grandmother’s house to deliver it? Will it be clever Rat, strong Ox, or cautious Rabbit? Ruby meets each of the twelve zodiac animals on her journey. This picture book includes back matter with a focus on the animals of the Chinese zodiac. - GODWIN BOOKS -

The Runaway Rice Cake book
The Runaway Rice Cake
Written by Ying Chang Compestine and illustrated by Tungwai Chau
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

This is a bit on the long side, but it's a beautiful story about being generous, even when you have almost nothing left to give. While the rewards of generosity may not always come as swiftly as they did to the Chang family, the conclusion of the story with the young boys being rewarded from learning from their parents' and neighbors' generosity is delightful a

It's the Chinese New Year, and the Chang Family has only enough rice flour to make one nián-gão, a special New Year's rice cake, for the entire family to eat. But this delicious little nián-gão has other ideas. "Ai yo! I don't think so!" it cries, coming to life and escaping. Ming, Cong, little Da and their parents chase the nián-gão all over the village until it runs into a hungry, old woman and sends her tumbling to the ground. Though Da is a small boy, his heart is big enough to share the treat with her, even though that leaves Da's family with nothing to eat for their own celebration. But the Changs' generosity doesn't go unnoticed. When they return home, they find the Kitchen God has left a wonderful surprise for them. Ying Chang Compestine's heartwarming story conveys an important and poignant message about sharing and compassion. Tungwai Chau's soft and evocative illustrations complete this tender holiday story.

The Great Race book
The Great Race
Written by Dawn Casey and illustrated by Anne Wilson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This book tells a great story about why the Chinese calendar year is named after certain animals, and the reason for the order it's in. I thought it was fun, creative, and it's full of colorful illustrations. There's also an explanation at the back of some of the main holidays on the calendar.

Discover how 12 animals competed in a madcap swimming race to help create the lunar calendar! Includes facts about Chinese festivals, the lunar calendar and the animals that rule each year.

Popo's Lucky Chinese New Year book
Popo's Lucky Chinese New Year
Written by Virginia Loh-Hagan and illustrated by Renne Benoit
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This book has some fun humor in it and shows the Chinese New Year through the eyes of a young child. It does a good job of introducing some of the traditions and meanings behind the holiday.

When her Chinese grandmother comes to visit, a young Chinese-American girl learns of and participates in the customs and beliefs celebrating an authentic Chinese New Year.

Bringing in the New Year book
Bringing in the New Year
Written and illustrated by Grace Lin
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

A Chinese American family prepares for and celebrates the Lunar New Year, in a book that includes endnotes discussing the customs and traditions of the Chinese New Year.

My First Chinese New Year book
My First Chinese New Year
Written and illustrated by Karen Katz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

A cute and simple introduction to Chinese New Year preparations and customs in a way that's very accessible and straightforward!

Chinese New Year is a time of new beginnings. Follow one little girl 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!

This Next New Year book
This Next New Year
Written by Janet S. Wong and illustrated by Yangsook Choi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

A young boy looks forward to the Lunar New Year, often called the Chinese New Year, a time of hope—and you don't have to be Chinese to celebrate it! Janet S. Wong's spare, lyrical couplets voice a child's determination to face the new year with courage and optimism. Yangsook Choi captures the spirit of celebration in her vibrant, energetic pictures.

The Animals of Chinese New Year book
The Animals of Chinese New Year
Written by Jen Sookfong Lee
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Drawing on the myth of the Chinese zodiac, The Animals of Chinese New Year follows twelve animals as they speed across a river, competing to represent the imminent new year in a race held by the Jade Emperor,the most powerful Chinese god. Each animal competes in its own unique way.The ox works hard, the tiger is brave, the dog smiles kindly, but who will win? Bright photographs of babies demonstrating the same traits as the animals in the text, complemented by traditional Chinese graphic elements, accompany Sookfong Lee’s lively text. Orca Book Publishers is pleased to offer this book as a dual-language (English/Simplified Chinese) edition.

Lucky New Year! book
Lucky New Year!
Written by Mary Man-Kong and illustrated by Chi Chung
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Come celebrate the Chinese New Year with its magical traditions— from giving gifts to watching parades! Children will love to scratch and sniff the sweet oranges, turn the wheel to find their Chinese animal year, lift the flap to find the lucky money, and watch the big dragon pop up to wish them a year filled with wisdom, wealth, and happiness. Happy Chinese New Year!

12 Lucky Animals: A Bilingual Baby Book book
12 Lucky Animals: A Bilingual Baby Book
Written by Vickie Lee and illustrated by Joey Chou
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Vickie Lee and Joey Chou's illustrated 12 Lucky Animals is a young, dual-language animal concept book introducing Chinese characters and the animals of the Chinese zodiac...

Dragon Dance book
Dragon Dance
Written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Benrei Huang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

It's Chinese New Year and there are so many fun things to do! Shopping at the outdoor market for fresh flowers, eating New Year's dinner with the whole family, receiving red envelopes from Grandma and Grandpa, and best of all-watching the spectacular Chinese New Year's parade! Introduce the customs of Chinese New Year to even the youngest readers with this festive new lift-the-flap book.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!