Lunar New Year

Disclosure: Tuttle Publishing sent me copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Chinese New Year or lunar new year starts on Saturday. Did you know there are other countries that celebrate the lunar new year besides China? Other Asian countries celebrate it like Korea, Vietnam, Singapore and others. Since I have shared so much about the Chinese New Year in the past I thought I would share books that share the culture of China and Korea this year. For both countries I have books that share about the lunar new year as well as other books to learn about the culture and way of life. 


Now I have been posting about the Chinese New Year since 2013 when it was the Year of the Snake. This year is the Year of the Rat. Since Hazel turns twelve this year she was born in the Year of the Rat so that makes this one extra special. Our first book is to share is about the rat. I have been sharing books about the horoscope animals since 2014 and the Year of the Horse. This year I am sharing The Little Rat and the Golden Sea by Li Jian. This book is in both English and Chinese.

This is a sweet story about how a man saved a rat  from a cat and had the rat sneak up to get some magic golden seeds. The rat was able to save one seed from destruction and that seed provided enough rice that the village never needed to worry about food again. The people were so happy and thankful of the rat and made him the first animal in the horoscope. 

The illustrations in this book are beautiful and so detailed. I love that the English and Chinese are in the same page. I love how the illustrations add to the story and share even more of the culture with the reader. At the end of the book there is a cultural explanation that goes into the meaning of the Year of the Rat as well as giving the dates of these years.

Our next book is about the tradition of returning home no matter how far you have roamed for the new year. Our next book is Home for Chinese New Year by Wei Jie and Xu Can. This is another book told in both English and Chinese. 
This book is a sweet father and son tale. The father works far from home and wants to be with his family for New Year's Eve. His journey is long and slowed by snow but he keeps thinking of his son and wanting to be with him. He has to travel by train, bus, three-wheeled motorcycle, ferry and a long walk. Once home he gets to reunite with his family. He spends several days there including making a lantern for the Lantern Festival. 
I love how this book adds the various traditions of celebrating the new year--firecrackers, dinner, cleaning, and hanging red couplets on the door--into the story. It shares the culture of the Chinese New Year into the book in a fun way. The watercolor illustrations are beautiful and so much culture is shared in the pictures as well as the story. I also love how it portrays the love between the father and son throughout the story. 

At the end of the book there information about the Chinese New Year as well as the Lantern Festival which is the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar and is the last the day of the New Year celebration in China.

This leads us to our next book which is more about the lanterns and the Lantern Festival. It is My Lantern and the Fairy: A Story of Light and Kindness by Lin Xin. In this story Little Mo does an act of kindness for the Lamp Fairy and is repaid with having her wish granted. The Lamp Fairy follows her home and gives her and her family instructions on how to make an amazing lantern for the lantern contest. This story is full of kindness, light and magic. 

The illustrations in this book are colorful and bold. I love how they share so much of the environment and culture. I also love how there are pages that show the steps of the lantern making like a tutorial.
The final page gives information about the Chinese lantern and the festivals where they are used. I love this addition to the book so that even more is learned about the culture.

Our next book about the Chinese culture is A Journey In Our Family's Chinese Garden by Li Jian. It takes through a traditional Chinese garden. Again it is a bilingual book in both English and Chinese. It also has pages with windows to the next page and cut edges with views of the next page. 
In this book a young boy's father has finished the construction of the family's garden and asks the boy to gather the family. The boy finds his siblings, mother and grandparents in different parts of the garden and then takes them to meet his father. 

I love how the "Man made rockery hill" is cut how it would be built and shows the view. I also love how so much of the parts of the garden are labeled in both English and Chinese. The activities of each family member also introduces the reader to the Chinese culture--catching butterflies, embroidering a peony, playing a Chinese zither, watering flowers, and reading and enjoying tea. The book ends with a page of cultural explanation on the different garden parts.

Our next Chinese book is I Have a Zoo: A Story of Animals All Around Me by Xiao Mao and Lian Peilong. 
This book is a beautiful book about animals that you may find in China. The words are simple but the art is beautiful! It is done with Chinese ink painting. There are parts that are more abstract while others show a bit more details.
The book shares about ducks, geese, cranes, cicadas, hens, butterflies and more. It is a perfect book to introduce Chinese culture and for beginning readers. 
The zoo seems like an almost magical place with the animals and beautiful scenery. It certainly is a place I would like to visit.

Our final Chinese book is actually a book of puzzles. It is Art Puzzles for Kids: Chinese Ceramics by Dong Hu. This book shares six ceramic Chinese art pieces and each one gives a bit of information as well as having a puzzle of the design blown up for details. 
A look at the art and valued pieces of a country teaches us so much plus the designs painted on it share more of the culture. The animals, the plants and scenes all help us envision life there.
I love that this book adds in the puzzles to give kids an activity with the art and learn even more about it. What a fun way to share art with a child.

For more resources to learn about China be sure to check our other posts


Since Korea also celebrates the lunar new year I thought I would share a couple books here. The first is Korean Celebrations: Festivals, Holidays and Traditions by Tina Cha and illustrated by Farida Zaman. 

This book starts by sharing a bit about Korea including history, clothes and more. Then it shares the different festivals, holidays and traditions. The holidays start with New Year's Day, January 1st. It shares a bit about a celebration that occurs in Seoul. Then it goes to the lunar new year. It shares that this is the biggest of Korea's traditional holidays. It lasts for three days. Women prepare food and hanboks for the special day. People travel back to their hometowns to be with family. Their are all sorts of traditional rites, games and activities and the book shares several of them from honoring ancestors, bowing to elders, food, games, kites and more. 
It even gives a tutorial to make your own version of a favorite game called Yut-nori. 

The holidays and festivals go mostly in chronological order. Next is the First Full Moon and there are pages to describe it. Independence Day is March 1st. There are three days of love--Valentine's Day (February 14th), White Day (March 14th), and Black Day (April 14th). It describes how each is celebrated. Some of the holidays are like ours and there are ones that we do not have. It is interesting and educational to learn about them.
I love how this book provides different crafts and activities to learn more about the culture and "celebrate" the holidays. It is a fun book with lots of information packed into it.

Our final book for today is Three Korean Fairy Tales Beloved Stories and Legends by Kim So-un and illustrated by Jeong Kyoung-Sim. This book shares three stories--The Magic Gem, The Tigers of the Kumgang Mountains, and The Deer and the Woodcutter. It first begins with a little cultural background. Each story has a bit of a lesson. One tells us why cats and dogs do not get along. Another tells us why the rooster looks to the sky calling out. The other is a more typical fairy tale with a bit of fantasy as most fairy tales have it. 

Each page is beautifully illustrated and helps the reader visualize the story. The stories ring of fairy tales with their own culture weaved in. It is such a wonderful way to learn about another culture and has always been one of our favorite ways. 

For more about Korea check out our other posts. We love sharing resources with you!

I hope you will check out these fun books. They make learning about other cultures so much fun. This post is part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Chinese New Year Blog Series. I hope you will visit the other blogs sharing in this series!

 Chinese New Year | Multicultural Kid Blogs 

Welcome to our sixth annual Chinese New Year blog hop! Lunar New Year, more commonly known as Chinese New Year, starts on January 25 this year. It is the beginning of the Year of the Rat, and we have lots of great ideas for celebrating it with kids! Don't miss our series from last year, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015, and you can find even more on our Chinese New Year Pinterest board:

Participating Blogs