Lunar New Year read-alouds are the perfect books to share with your family to celebrate or learn more about this special holiday. Check out our list of favorite Lunar New Year picture books below!
Lunar New Year read-aloud books share the magic of this special holiday
Did you know that Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in China and Chinese communities worldwide? Lunar New Year is also one of the most important celebrations of the year among East and Southeast Asian cultures, including Korean and Vietnamese communities.
Referred to in China and Chinese communities as Chinese New Year, the Lunar Year marked the start of the new year in the Chinese calendar. The historic Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, which meant that dates were set based on the sun and the moon.
The holiday commenced with feasts and celebrations to honor ancestors as well as household and heavenly deities. The Lunar New Year typically begins with the first new moon at the end of January. It lasts for the first 15 days of the first month of the lunar calendar and ends when the full moon arrives.
Lunar New Year read-aloud books honor this meaningful two-week celebration.
How to wish someone a happy new year in Chinese
In Mandarin, the official language of China, Gong xi fa cai is how to wish someone a happy new year. This translates to “wishing you to be prosperous in the coming year.”
Many Chinese communities also speak Cantonese. Cantonese speakers say gung hay fat choy to wish someone a happy new year. This translates to “wishing you great happiness and prosperity.”
As the new year approaches (it will be celebrated on January 22 in 2023!), grab these Lunar New Year read-aloud books and make sure to wish those who celebrate gong xi fa cai or gung hay fat choy!
Enjoy these terrific stories!
Frequently asked questions
I adore Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, featured below! It’s such a fun story about a young girl getting ready for the Lunar New Year, and it’s a fabulous fractured fairy tale (a fun twist on based on a classic fairy tale) based on Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I also love The Nian Monster. It contains beautiful illustrations, lots of cultural traditions, and a witty main character who outsmarts the legendary Nian monster! Both of these books are featured below.
Absolutely! We love reading about all kinds of new year celebrations, including Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and the secular new year on December 31st. We also love how the book Every Month is a New Year, featured below, discusses not only Lunar New Year but diverse religious, cultural, and regional New Year celebrations that take place all throughout the year!
I get asked this question all the time, and there’s one simple answer. Whatever you want! Some families love to keep these holiday books out even past the new year. Others put them away until the holiday approaches again. This keeps the books feeling special once they are pulled off the shelf the next year. There is no right or wrong answer here, and you must do what works best for your family!
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We love these Lunar New Year Read Aloud books!
It’s Chinese New Year! Goldy’s mother wants her to take a plate of turnip cakes to their neighbors, the Chans. But when Goldy arrives, the door is open and no one is home. Goldy, undeterred, walks on in and finds three bowls of congee — and then helps herself to a bite! She then decides she needs a rest but comes upon one disaster after another. Will Goldy find a way to have a lucky start to the new year? This is one of our favorite Chinese New Year books!
It’s Chinese New Year, and the legendary Nian monster has returned to Shanghai. Xingling has just learned all about the monster from her Po Po while decorating for the holiday. He used to devour whole villages! When Xingling meets the Nian monster face to face, she knows that loud noises, fire, and the color red may be enough to fend him off. Will Xinglin be able to outsmart him and save the holiday? We absolutely adore this fabulous Lunar New Year read-aloud that shares great cultural information and contains breathtaking illustrations.
It’s almost the Lunar New Year, and little Ren can’t wait to help her family prepare. There’s just one problem: everyone in her family thinks she is too little to do anything! Luckily, with the help of her brother, Ren learns how to make the perfect pineapple cakes – her favorite! We love this sweet story of family, tradition, and delicious food!
Daisy cannot wait to travel to China to see Yeh-Yeh again! She has no doubt they will have a great time, and she has plans galore – especially cause Lunar New Year is coming up, and she can’t wait to fly kites and make jiao zi. There’s just one problem. When she arrives, she can’t sleep, she’s so tired, and she can’t shake her grumps! Will she get some sleep before the holiday arrives, or will she feel grumpy the whole time? We adore this darling new book and the way Daisy struggles so authentically with her emotions which is relatable for all young children. Even better though? Yeh Yeh’s spirit, the inclusion of both Cantonese and Mandarin phrases throughout the story, and the beautiful celebration of Chinese culture on each page. Grumpy New Year is anything but – it’s a true delight!
Get ready for the holiday with this great Lunar New Year read-aloud! Each family member does their part to usher in the new year. From sweeping away the dust from the old year to making delicious dumplings and hanging decorations, the family is excited to celebrate with their friends. After all, there are fireworks to see, shining lanterns to admire, and a dragon parade to watch! This is a sweet and simple introduction to the Lunar New Year.
It’s a snowy day in Northeastern China. Two best friends, Dandan and Yueyue, are celebrating Lunar New Year together, partaking in some of their favorite wintertime traditions. The two make paper-cut snowflakes, freeze them outside, and hang them up as decorations! But despite the joyful holiday, the girls dread the next day. Tomorrow, Dandan is moving to America. This is a beautiful Lunar New Year read-aloud based on the author’s own immigration story. It speaks to the enduring bonds of friendship, the fear of loneliness in a new place, and the power of small acts of kindness. A beauty!
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Ming heads to the market to buy food. Yet instead of returning with groceries, he comes home with an old wok instead. Why? Because the wok sang to him, and he knew if it could sing, it must contain other magic, too. His parents have no idea what they will eat for dinner with an old wok and no food to cook, until the wok suddenly rolls out of their house with a skippity-hoppity-ho and returns with tons of food and treats for Ming’s family and other families, too. Will Ming’s generosity and the magic wok be enough to bring a happy Lunar New Year to Ming and his neighbors?
This simple preschool color book is perfect to introduce little ones to colors and symbols of the Chinese New Year. From red (or hong), the color of firecrackers, to blue (or lan) teapots, this beautiful bilingual book is a lovely celebration of the Lunar New Year.
The night before Lunar New Year, one little girl cannot wait for the upcoming festivities. The dumplings are made, a new dress is ready for wearing, and the Nian monster has been successfully scared away. But will she be able to overcome her fear of loud noises at the big parade? This is a darling Lunar New Year read-aloud written in the style of Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas.
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Early readers will love this story of two kids getting ready for the Chinese New Year! The celebration is incredibly important to Alex and her family, and it is made even more special when she shares her traditions with her best friend. From joining the parade to making dumplings to opening red envelopes before the great feast, the simple text and vibrant illustrations make this a perfect Lunar New Year read-aloud for new readers!
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We love multicultural picture books, and this gem discusses the diverse religious, cultural, and regional New Year celebrations that take place all throughout the year! While the New Year begins on January 1st in many places around the globe, this isn’t always the case! Chinese New Year occurs in January or February, Iranians celebrate Nowruz in March, and Thai people celebrate Songkran in April. This fabulous book highlights sixteen festivals, from the well-known to the lesser-known, and you’ll learn something new on every page!
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We love this series from National Geographic Kids celebrating holidays around the world. This great nonfiction read describes holiday traditions, from the color red to the Festival of Lanterns to the dragon dance, children will marvel at the beautiful images and learn a lot from the informational text. A great Chinese New Year book!
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RELATED: We’ve got a great list of kindergarten read-alouds for you on Happily Ever Elephants, so be sure to check out these great picture books!
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