10 Great Korean Lunar New Year Books for Kids in English and Korean!

Korean Lunar New Year Books for Kids

Although my kids live far from their Korean grandparents and other relatives, we hope that they can learn Korean language and culture. This month, we are doing a few Korean crafts and activities and reading books about Korean Lunar New Year (설날 Seollal).

I’ll give a brief overview about Korean Lunar New Year and then review 8 great books for families!

Lunar New Year books - Chinese, Korean, and English picture books
Lunar New Year books on 36″ white floating shelves (similar here; also Command ledge with no nails); soft grey play mat

For reference, my daughter is 7 years old, and my son is 4. However, these books would be great Korean gifts for preschoolers, kindergartners, and lower-elementary school-aged kids. Since American bookstores offer few books about Korean heritage, I recommend getting all of these books!

Korean Lunar New Year Books for Kids

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What is Korean New Year (설날 Seollal)?

Korean Lunar New Year, also known as 설날 Seollal, is one of the most important holidays in Korean culture. Traditionally, the holiday is celebrated for 3 days and involves wearing a 한복 hanbok, feasting on delicious food, playing games, and performing a bow called 세배 sebae.

Like other Asian countries that celebrate Lunar New Year, 설날 Seollal follows the lunar calendar. This year, 설날 Seollal falls on Friday, February 12, 2021.

Related: Korean Alphabet Toys: 4 Ways to Teach Kids with Hangul Letters

Picture books about Korean Lunar New Year in English

Here are our favorite books about Korean New Year and popular family traditions!

Korean Festivals by Tina Cho, Tuttle Publishing

1. Korean Celebrations: Festivals, Holidays, Traditions

Written by Korean-American author, Tina Cho, this book gives an overview of Korean culture firsthand through detailed explanations and beautiful illustrations of games, crafts, stories, and food.

In addition to Lunar New Year, special holidays such as Dano (end of planting season), Children’s Day, Pepero Day, Hangeul Day, and 100 Days Birthday are included. Activities include:

Book information:

  • Author: Tina Cho
  • Illustrator: Farida Zaman
  • Publisher: Tuttle
  • ISBN: 9780804846943
  • Where to buy: Amazon | Bookshop

Related: 4 Korean Children’s Songs for Parents’ Day (Printable Lyrics)

All About Korea: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids

2. All About Korea: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids

All About Korean is written by Ann Martin Bowler, an educator and mother of 2 adopted Korean children. Like the above book by Tina Cho, this book also gives an overview of Korean cultural traditions on Lunar New Year and other important games, crafts, songs, stories, and recipes. Activities include:

  • Play jegi (Korean hacky-sack), 공기 gongi (Korean jacks), 윳놀이 yut nori
  • Sing 아리랑 Arirang, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, and other popular Korean children’s songs
  • Say a few common Korean words/phrases
  • Read short Korean stories (eg, Taming a Tiger, Two Foolish Green Frogs)
  • Make yummy recipes like 김밥 kimbap and 송편 songpyeon
All About Korea: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids

Book information:

  • Author: Ann Martin Bowler
  • Illustrator: Soosoonam Barg
  • Publisher: Tuttle
  • ISBN: 9780804849388
  • Where to buy: Amazon | Bookshop

Related: Best Korean Picture Dictionaries for Kids and Parents!

Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan

3. Lunar New Year story: Dumpling Soup

This Lunar New Year story is one of my children’s absolute favorite stories, and the realistic illustrations are beautiful!! A little girl, Marisa, shares about her diverse family in Hawaii. In addition to their Korean heritage, her family also has a blend of Japanese, Chinese, and Hawaiian-American culture.

As the family cooks and prepares the New Year’s meal together, we learn about special meals, such as 만두국 (mandugug / dumpling soup).

Book information:

  • Author: Jama Kim Rattigan
  • Illustrator: Lillian Hsu
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN: 978031673047
  • Where to buy: Amazon | Bookshop
All Year for One Day by Tiffanie Lee

4. All Year for One Day

Last year, author Tiffanie Lee published a gorgeous book about Lunar New Year and common traditions in a Korean-American Family.

Special meals like oval soup are highlighted, and the big, familiar box of Korean pears in the illustrations did not go unnoticed!

While most of the book is in English, the Korean greeting 새해 복 많이 받으세요 (saehae bog manh-i bad-euseyo / Happy New Year!) is included during the bowing tradition.

Book information:

  • Author and Illustrator: Tiffanie Lee
  • Publisher: City at Sea
  • Where to buy: Author’s website

Related: Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps

Picture books about Korean Lunar New Year in Korean and English

New Clothes for New Years Day - Korean Hanbok cultural traditions

1. 설빔 New Clothes for New Year’s Day

This picture book by Hyun-joo Bae shows how to wear Korean hanboks and style hair for Lunar New Year. The book was originally published in Korean and later translated to English. One version of the book focuses on traditional girl’s clothing while the other version features boy’s attire.

Unfortunately, the book is out-of-print, but keep an eye out for used copies on Amazon and Thrift Books.

Good news: the Korean version of this book has been narrated on YouTube! In the videos of each book, you’ll see the differences between the little brother and big sister’s clothing, their developmental level, and personalities. The girl dresses herself with ease, while the boy playfully struggles and proud when he figures it out.

Book information:

  • Author: Hyun-joo Bae
  • Publisher: Kane/Miller Book Pub
  • Where to buy:
    • English – girl version (ISBN 9781933605296): Amazon | Thrift Books
    • Korean – girl version (ISBN 9788958282037): Aladin
    • Korean – boy version (ISBN 9788958281993): Aladin

Video narration:

Related: Where to Buy Korean Books for Kids in the United States

할머니와의 슈퍼 설날 Super Korean New Years with Grandma

2. 할머니와의 슈퍼 설날 Super Korean New Years with Grandma

Written by a Korean-American author in both Korean and English, this new release is about the special grandmotherly bond through cultural traditions. We have the English version of the book which includes a few romanized Korean words like “mandu” and “dduk gook”. The illustrations are simple but cute and realistic.

Book information:

  • Author: Mary Chi-Whi Kim
  • Illustrator: Eunjoo Feaster
  • Where to buy:

3. 설날 Seollal

So thankful that a lovely mom, Rebecca, recommended this bilingual book! According to the publisher’s description, a young boy named 요한은 learns about Lunar New Year blessings and making a noble wish for the new year. The book appears to have realistic illustrations, which is really important for representation. As this book is available only in Korean, we won’t be getting this book since we don’t have anyone to read this language to our kids currently. But I hope that your family can enjoy it!

Book information:

  • Author: 정인철 저
  • ISBN: 9788984889316
  • Where to buy:

4. This New New Year

I was excited to buy This Next New Year, which was written by Korean-Chinese-American author and translated into our family’s 3 languages! Books with characters that have mixed ethniticites are rare and much needed.

Unfortunately, the Chinese and Korean translations are inaccurate according to native speakers. In addition, the traditions are more focused on Chinese rather than Korean ones. The most troubling part was when the protagonist said, “I call it Chinese New Year, even though I’m half-Korean.” For a book that’s supposed to represent both cultures, “Lunar New Year” should have been used.

While I normally try to minimize negative reviews, representation is important, and a book like this is not ideal for many Korean families.

Picture book about Korean New Year in Korean

1. 떡국의마음

떡국의마음 is another book that was just recommended to me. According to the product description, this story reveals the ingredients and steps for making 떡국 (rice cake soup)! Illustrations are detailed and realistic!

Book information:

  • Author: 천미진
  • ISBN: 9791164631254
  • Where to buy:

Korean chapter book about Lunar New Year in English

Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade

My 7-year-old daughter LOVES the Mindy Kim series! This chapter book is about an 8-year old Korean-American girl who recently moves to a new state with her dad after her mom passes away. She learns to make new traditions for Lunar New Year with her dad and new friends.

Book information:

  • Author: Lyla Lee
  • Illustrator: Dung Ho
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Ages/ Level: 6-9 years / Grades 1-4
  • ISBN: 9781534440104
  • Where to buy:
Chinese Lunar New Year books for Kids in Chinese and English

Chinese Lunar New Year books

Since my children are part Chinese through me, we are also learning about Lunar New Year celebrations in Chinese culture and how they compare and contrast with Korean culture! If you’re curious, check out our favorite Chinese Lunar New Year picture books!

What are your favorite Korean New Year books for kids?

Which books about Korean New Year did your kids like? Are there other books that you recommend that we check out? Please share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to learn from you!

More Korean learning resources for kids

Korean learning resources for kids

Korean resources for kids on Amazon!

Click on the image below to see Korean toys, books, and other resources on Amazon!

Korean resources for kids on Amazon!

Happy reading, friends!

2 Comments

  1. dumpling is chinese mandu name.
    we are called the name ‘MANDU’
    everything so good. but just one thing.
    my opinion is. it’s going to be education about korean culture. so have to be more care about the name..
    i wish the book names ‘ManDuGug’ not Dumpling soup.

    1. Hello, thanks for taking the time to comment here and in the Facebook group!  I hear your frustration; one book is not representation for all Korean families & there are so few books available.

      In the Dumpling Soup story, the main character is part of Korean-American family in Hawaii with Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian, & white relatives. She seems to not know much Korean language & refers to 만두 as both “dumplings” and “mandoo” and other Korean terms with romanization in the book. Hopefully more Korean authors will write stories about their families’ experience, but this is the author’s story and she has chosen the English translation for the title.

      If you’re interested, there is a cute book called Bee-Bim-Bop! that my kids love. It’s available in these links: Amazon and Bookshop.

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