The Story of the Red Envelopes by Gordon Lew. This beloved classic from 1971 explains the symbols on Red Envelopes. It has been updated by TACT in 2018 with additional images. K-3 It will be on the TACT website
A New Year's Reunion, 2011 by Yu Li-Qiong with Zhu Cheng-Liang, Illustrator 2011. A girl is overjoyed when her father returns home to celebrate the New Year in China. Like many Chinese American parents, he works far away, and the time he spends is precious because he must return to work. Mandarin Chinese is used and some customs are different from the ones observed by Cantonese speakers. Grades K-2
Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year by Kate Waters and Madeline Slovenz-Low. 1990. This is a story of a young boy’s conquering his fears in his first public dance under a lion’s head in New York City. The story is told with color photos and remains a classroom favorite. It has been featured in the PBS television series, Reading Rainbow. Grades 1-3.
New Year by Rich Lo 2016. An immigrant Chinese boy introduces his classmates to aspects of the New Year when asked to provide decorations for the classroom. It is based on the author’s own difficult experiences adjusting to Los Angeles. His family makes dragon boat dumplings in their New Year celebration. Grades 2-4
Dragon Parade: A Chinese New Year Story by Steven A. Chin, 1993. This tells of the first New Year parade in America in 1851 and includes a good explanation of why people left China and the life of a Chinatown in America. The illustrations are excellent and show the historical dress, stores, and customs of the period. This book is highly recommended because of the historical dimension of the celebration. Grades 4-5
Exploring Chinatown: A Children's Guide to Chinese Culture by Carol Stepanchuk with Leland Wong, Illustrator 2003. This book is about many aspects of a Chinatown community, with some good information about Lunar New Year, stores, religious practices, and Lion Dances. The excellent drawings show an intimate knowledge of the community in which the illustrator was raised. Grades 4-8.
Lunar New Year Recommended Readings: Animals and the Zodiac (Elementary School: in ascending order of difficulty)
Ten Mice for Tet! By Pegi Deitz Chea and Cynthia Weill. 2003. Ten mice lead readers through the Tet with simple sentences. The book uses illustrations from beautifully embroidered pictures. PreK-1 Many Vietnamese customs are similar to Chinese customs; however, the zodiac replaces the rabbit with a cat. For an excellent explanation go to: http://vietnamesezodiac.com/vietnamese-year-of-the-cat/
Why Cats Chase Mice: A Story of the Twelve Zodiac Signs (Japanese Fairy Tale Series) by Mina Harada Eimon. 1993. A mouse tricks the cat who loses his chance to be in the animal zodiac. The story differs from the Chinese version although the animals are the same. Japan changed to the Gregorian calendar, using January 1 as its New Year in 1873. Prek-1.
Cat and Rat: The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac by Ed Young. 1998. The illustrations are spare and dark. They capture the essence of each animal and their fierce competition to be the first in the zodiac. This is in contrast to the more colorful versions that are available. Older children might appreciate this as an art lesson, but the images might scare younger children. Grades 4-5.
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