This year, Chinese New Year will fall on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. To prepare for the most important Chinese holiday, we are reading Chinese New Year books, listening to audiobooks in Mandarin Chinese, and enjoying hands-on Chinese activities! I’m excited to share that I updated this post from last year with new Chinese New Year books in Chinese and English! Since my kids are half-Korean, I have also included two Lunar New Year books from a Korean perspective and hope to add more Korean books over time.
My hope is that you can find these books in your local library. If your library doesn’t have books in other languages, I hope that this list will give you some ideas of books to add to your home book collection. As always, I have included ISBN and links to some stores so that you can look for the best available price! There may be other stores that carry the books that I’m not aware of, so please consider checking your local bookstores. Although it’s helpful to read books by different authors for different perspectives, you don’t have to get every book on the list! 🙂
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Lunar New Year Books for Kids
The New Year books are organized in the following categories:
- Lunar New Year Storybooks in Chinese
- Lunar New Year Storybooks in English
- Lunar New Year Storybooks in Korean
- Activity books in Chinese and English
(1) Storybooks about Chinese New Year in Chinese
1. 过年啦 (Guònián la / Happy New Year!)
This is an interactive, hands-on book where kids can open the red envelopes, celebrate the dragon dance, decorate doors and hang lanterns! Available in simplified and traditional Chinese, the book is beautifully illustrated with realistic looking people.
- Where to Buy
- Audio Narration:
2. 团圆 (Tuányuán / A New Year’s Reunion)
This is one of my daughter’s favorite stories. The touching story is about a child with a father who works far from home. When the father returns home on the New Year, he makes 汤圆 with his child. The father puts coins in the 汤圆 for good luck so the child can treasure their memories when her father returns to work.
- Where to Buy
- Audio Narration:
3. The Chinese Zodiac 十二生肖 with CD
This folktale is about the origin of the Chinese Zodiac. The beginner level book is part of the Chinese Library Series, written in simplified Chinese and pinyin with English translations at the back of the book. The story concludes with short exercises and a passage for extended reading. Read the review of Chinese Library Series – Simplified Chinese Readers with Pinyin & English for more details.
- Where to Buy
4. The Nian Monster with CD
This folktale is about the the fictional Nian monster that visits at the New Year. The character, Xinling, has to outsmart the monster to save Shanghai. This pre-intermediate (~900words) book is part of the Chinese Library Series, written in simplified Chinese with pinyin. The story concludes with short exercises and a passage for extended reading.
- Where to Buy
5. 賴馬系列-十二生肖的故事 (Lài mǎ xìliè – shí’èr shēngxiào de gùshì / Lai Ma Series – Story of the Zodiac) with CD
The folktale is about the origin of the Chinese Zodiac, and the narration is uniquely dynamic! Available at Gloria’s Bookstore, the text is in traditional Chinese with Zhuyin. Please note that if you’re listening to the CD while reading the text, you’ll notice that the CD has some extra words added by the narrator.
6. 打灯笼 (Dǎ dēnglóng / Playing With Lanterns)
- Where to buy:
- Audio narration: Tencent Video (Chinese video streaming channel)
7. 春节 (Spring Festival)
Part of the Chinese Festivals Stories Collection of 12 books 中国记忆(传统节日共12册 – click here to see review of the full set
- Simplified Chinese / ISBN: 9787303155132
- Traditional Chinese / ISBN: 9789865811945
- Audio Narration in Mandarin Chinese: Free on Ximalaya
8. Rhythm and Tones Book + CD
My kids LOVE the Rhythm and Tones Books! The book gives a brief overview about Chinese New Year in addition to everyday topics. Basic Chinese phases and sentences are paired with Pinyin and English translation. The CD is in Mandarin Chinese and has catchy music and rhymes that my kids sing and dance to! Please click here to see the detailed video review about these books!
9. 年味儿 (Chinese New Year Food)
- Where to buy:
- Simplified Chinese / ISBN: 9787537972796
10. 十二生肖的故事 (Shí’èr shēngxiào de gùshì / Zodiac Story)
The Ximalaya app has a collection of free Chinese Zodiac stories! I’m not sure if there is a physical book version of the series. Last year when I wrote this post, I had written “although the speech is clear, as a nonfluent Chinese speaker, I find the audio difficult to understand. The background piano music plus fast rate of speech is too challenging for me and therefore my toddler!” However, a year later, although we are still not fluent, we can understand the stories much better now and don’t feel distracted by the music! You can listen to the story on Ximalaya here.
11. 四五快读 (Sìwǔ kuài dú / Four-Five Fast Read)
四五快读 is a Chinese reading curriculum that teachers over 800 Chinese characters in a series of 8 books. The 8th book has many short stories, two of which are about the Chinese Zodiac:
- 猫和老鼠 (Māo hé lǎoshǔ / Cat and Rat) – pages 36-37
- 第一的老鼠 (Dì yī de lǎoshǔ / Rat is the First) – pages 38-39
Read more about 四五快读 and where to buy in this detailed review.
(2) Lunar New Year books in English
1. Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap Book
This is a fun story book about Chinese traditions, such as preparing for New Year’s dinner, red envelopes, and the dragon dance parade! If you’re looking for Montessori-style books, you’ll be happy to know that these illustrations are realistic! In addition, my children enjoy peeking behind the flaps! You can find this in English on Amazon (ISBN: 9780142400005).
2. Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year: With Fireworks, Dragons, and Lanterns
This book has real photographs about Chinese New Year celebrations! The text describes how families celebrate ancestors and gift red envelopes. In addition, vibrant pictures of the Festival of Lanterns and Dragon Dance. You can find this in English on Amazon (ISBN: 9781426303814).
3. Maggie’s Chopsticks
This story is about a girl named Maggie who is struggling to use chopsticks. They touch upon a few Chinese traditions. The book is available in English on Amazon (ISBN: 9781554536191).
4. Dumpling Soup
This is one of my daughter’s absolute favorite stories! This lunar new year story is told in the perspective of Korean traditions, such as dumpling soup. The realistic illustrations are beautiful! You can buy the book on Amazon (ISBN: 978031673047).
5. Bringing In The New Year
This cute book by Grace Lin is geared toward toddlers and gives an overview Chinese New Year traditions. The book is available on Amazon (ISBN: 9780385753654).
6. Goldy Luck and the 3 Pandas
I almost forgot to include this book! My daughter went through a phase last year when she was obsessed with this book! The story is a Chinese American retelling of Goldy Locks and the 3 Bears with cultural elements like luck, congee, and panda bears. In contrast to the original story, this version has a happy ending in that Goldy Luck apologizes to the Panda family with turnip cakes! You can buy this on Amazon (ISBN: 9781580896535).
(3) Lunar New Year Book in Korean, Chinese, and English
1. This Next New Year
- English / ISBN: 9781937057251
- Chinese / ISBN: 9781937057268
- Korean / ISBN: 9781937057237
(4) Bilingual Chinese/English Chinese New Year Workbooks
1. Daily Noodles My Fun Chinese Book: Animals
This activity book for children ages 2-3 and up has 36 projects involving the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. The text is mostly in English with key words in simplified Chinese and pinyin. My daughter has enjoyed the variety of crafts, coloring opportunities, and games in this fun book! You can buy this Chinese activity book on Amazon. Please read this post for a detailed review of the Daily Noodles Chinese activity books!
2. Chinese New Year: Activities for Children
Chinese New Year Activities for Children is an activity book for preschoolers and elementary school-aged children. Their many crafts include puppets (eg, dragon, panda) and Chinese lanterns. Most of the text is in English; there is some words in simplified Chinese and pinyin. You can buy this Chinese activity book on Amazon.
Here are some of the Chinese New Year books in our bathroom bookcase! Since my kids are learning both simplified and traditional Chinese, I wrote Chinese characters in both scripts on Post-It notes and displayed them on the wall with painter’s tape. The bottom words just to expose my 2-year-old son to characters while the words at the top are for my daughter to learn to read and write.
What are your favorite Chinese New Year Books?
Please let me know if I should add more to this list!
Other Chinese New Year resources for children
From CHALK Academy:
- 15+ Fun Chinese New Year Activities for Kids!
- Chinese Zodiac Wheel – Educational Chinese New Year Printable
- 恭喜发财 Chinese New Year Craft Stick Puzzle
- Free Happy New Year Coloring Pages
- Chinese New Year YouTube Videos in Mandarin Chinese
From around the web:
- 春節/中國新年書單分享 (持續更新中) (3MP)
- Chinese New Year Songs and Printable Lyrics (Spot of Sunshine)
- How to Celebrate Chinese New Year (Chinese American Family)
- Chinese New Year Pre-K/K FULL Theme Packs (Fortune Cookie Mom)
- Chinese Culture for Kids Series: Chinese Lunar New Year Guide – Tradition, Taboos, and Celebration (Miss Panda Chinese)
Where to buy Chinese books for kids
For more Chinese book recommendations for kids, please visit and bookmark this link of our favorite books! Every week, I will be adding book reviews to this website!
If you’re wondering where to buy Chinese books for children, please click here for a list of the most popular online bookstores!
Free Chinese Books for Kids
- Free Chinese Audiobooks for Children on Ximalaya 喜马拉雅
- Websites and Apps with FREE Multilingual Books for Kids
Advice on how to teach kids Chinese
- How to create a Chinese learning environment at home
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- Raising Multilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent: 7 Lessons Learned in 2018
- How To Get Your Child To Speak the Minority Language
- Encourage A Child to Love and Speak the Minority Language with 5 Strategies
- How to Find a Foreign Language Teacher for Your Child
- 5 Reasons Books are the Best Gifts for Multilingual Kids
- Teach kids how to read Chinese
Happy Lunar New Year, friends!