Friday, January 28, 2011

Favorite Chinese New Year Books for Kids

The Chinese New Year is quickly approaching on February 3. This year, we say goodbye to the Year of the Tiger, and welcome the Year of the Rabbit. Chinese New Year is the perfect time to introduce children to Chinese culture. Although a good percentage of the world celebrates the holiday, it is a uniquely exciting celebration to many kids.

Whether you are sharing the holiday with a classroom or at home, there are many great ways to present Chinese New Year for kids. Even if you don't know a lot about the holiday, there are many resources available that you can use either to learn about Chinese New Year or as a teaching resource. Books are a great tool because they can be read together or independently. Following are some of ChinaSprout's best-selling Chinese New Year books:

Kitchen GodKitchen God - According to Chinese legend, the Kitchen God watches over families throughout the year. Just before the New Year, he travels to heaven to report on the family's activities to the Jade Emperor. This beautifully illustrated picture book is full of fun and mischief. Children will relate as the story unfolds about a family and their misbehavior, which occurs under the watchful eye of the Kitchen God.

The Year of the Rabbit: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac - This is the sixth in a planned 12-book series that introduces children to the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Oliver Chin introduces young readers to the characteristics of each zodiac animal through lively stories accompanied by exuberant illustrations. The Year of the Rabbit follows the escapades of Rosie, a long-eared hare with a nose for adventure. Along the way, she meets the boy Jai and other animals from the Chinese lunar calendar. By story's end, Rosie discovers that her unique traits serve her well.

Elementary School
Celebrate Chinese New Year with Fireworks, Dragons and Lanterns - This vibrant and informative book is part of National Geographic's "Holidays Around the World" series. It is filled with concise, but informative details about many aspects of the Chinese holiday, including giving lucky red envelopes, the Chinese zodiac, the importance of the colors red and gold in the Chinese culture, the use of couplets, lion dancers, dragons, and more. Celebrate Chinese New Year also includes a section on crafts and recipes that ties the learning in with more hands-on fun.

Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragonboats - This is a long-time favorite book of teachers and families, alike. This beautifully illustrated book delves deep into the stories, celebrations and customs that surround many Chinese holidays including Chinese New Year, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival. Moonbeams is filled with recipes, activities and traditional tales that will engage readers young and old.

Middle School and Junior High
Origins of Chinese Festivals - The fabulous Origins series uses cartoon graphic stories to share history and culture with kids. This book explores all of the major Chinese holidays, including the customs and history behind them. There are 29 stories in all, which will have kids repeating facts that they didn't even realized that they learned because they were having so much fun reading comics.

Chinese New Year - Patricia Bjaaland Welch takes readers on a journey that provides a complete introduction to celebrating the Chinese New Year. She shares insights into holiday origins, greetings, customs, food and more. After reading Chinese New Year, readers will come to understand the meaning behind the various flowers, fruits and symbols that are prominent during this most important Chinese holiday. They will also learn what to expect during the holiday and appropriate ways to interact with others, based on thousands of years of traditions and customs.