This year, Asians around the world will be celebrating Lunar New Year on Friday, February 12. This holiday is a great opportunity to learn more about Asian, and in particular, Chinese, cultures and traditions – something that feels particularly important given how severely coronavirus-inspired xenophobia has impacted Asian American children and families. The following picture books are a great way to learn about Asian cultures together, or to celebrate the traditions that your family already practices.

cover of book shows girl in orange and yellow with a orange banner behind her

 

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, by Natasha Yim – In this re-imagining of the three little bears, Goldy’s mother asks her to take a plate of turnip cakes to their panda bear neighbors in celebration of Chinese New Year. Goldy accidentally ends up breaking and entering, but instead of avoiding the damage she caused, she makes amends –and discovers a little bit of luck in the new year.

A New Year’s Reunion, by Yu Li-Qiong – It’s Lunar New Year, which means that it’s time for Maomao’s father to come home! Maomao only sees her father once a year. The two of them do traditions together to get to reacquaint themselves with each other, and to celebrate family, near and far. 

Mooncakes, by Loretta Seto – A little girl celebrates the Chinese Moon Festival with her family. Together they share tea and mooncakes, and tell traditional stories about the moon. book cover

A Big Mooncake for Little Star, by Grace Lin – It’s time for the moon festival, and Little Star can’t wait to eat Moon Cake! Her mother tells her to wait, but she can’t resist taking just one tiny bite. A clever and impressively illustrated story about the phases of the moon. 

Sweet Laba Congee, by Qiusheng Zhang – It’s the laba festival, which means that it’s time for a young girl named Yan’er to help her grandmother make rice porridge, also known as congee. The book’s illustrations give readers a view into Chinese village life, while the text informs readers about stories and traditions surrounding this winter festival. 

book cover

Red is a Dragon: A Book of Colors, by Roseanne Thong –  A gorgeously illustrated book of colors that is also an introduction to Chinese culture. The rhyming text and vibrant pictures make this book fascinating a treat for the ears and the eyes. 

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao, by Kat Zhang – Amy Wu loves making bao, a traditional Chinese dish, with her family. But she also finds it frustrating: no matter how hard she tries, she can’t seem to get her bao to be the right shape! A whimsically illustrated book about perseverance, confidence, family, and tradition.  

Gondra’s Treasure, by Linda Sue Park – Gondra is a dragon whose mother is from the West and whose father is from the East. Their traditions are very different, but there is one thing they share: their love for each other. A wonderful introduction to dragon stories from the East and West, and a relatable book for children of parents who come from two different cultures.

Mathangi Subramanian, Ed.D., believes stories have the power to change the world. Her middle grades book, Dear Mrs. Naidu, won the South Asia Book Award, and her picture book A Butterfly Smile was inducted into the Nobel Museum by Laureate Dr. Esther Duflo. Her novel A People’s History of Heaven was longlisted for the PEN/Faulkner award, a finalist for the LAMBDA literary award, and named a Skipping Stones Honors Book. A former public school teacher, senior policy analyst at the New York City Council, and Fulbright Scholar, she currently consults for Sesame Workshop. She holds a doctorate in education from Columbia Teachers College.