Unlock the Magic of Teaching with Lunar New Year Stories in the Classroom
Looking for a way to add some special sparkle to your classroom this Lunar New Year? Incorporating Lunar New Year stories will cultivate enthusiasm in your students for exploring culture and help them recognise the unique traditions associated with this holiday. Plus, sharing these stories with students from all backgrounds provides an appreciation for other perspectives and encourages global-mindedness.
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Diving into the Traditions of Lunar New Year
The Lunar New Year signifies the start of a new year per the lunar calendar and is a cherished festival in several Asian cultures.
The Lunar New Year involves fascinating traditions such as family reunions, festive decorations, and exchanging red envelopes containing money. These customs represent prosperity, unity, and good luck.
Comprehending its significance enhances cultural understanding and inclusivity in the classroom. You can use picture books to discuss Lunar New Year in different countries and how they reflect and shape cultural values.
Using Lunar New Year Stories in the Classroom
Picture books offer a vibrant and engaging way to present information about the Lunar New Year traditions, food, and festivities.
The Lunar New Year picture books below help your students learn about the history and traditions and how it is celebrated worldwide. They illustrate the cultural significance of the celebration and the importance of family at this time.
Some stories use the name Chinese New Year and others Lunar New Year. The latter refers to the celebration in countries other than China. While the celebrations have the same meaning, different countries celebrate in their own unique ways.
Integrating Lunar New Year stories in the classroom complements other activities and contributes to capturing the festive spirit of the holiday.
Challenges in Teaching about Lunar New Year
Teaching about Lunar New Year can present difficulties due to intricate cultural nuances and the complexity of the lunar calendar. Picture books simplify these concepts, rendering them more accessible to students.
Questions to Pair with Lunar New Year Stories
Consider using these questions to spark classroom discussions when reading Lunar New Year picture books.
- How do the characters celebrate the Lunar New Year?
- What are some Lunar New Year traditions featured in the book?
- How do the characters prepare for the Lunar New Year?
- What are some special dishes mentioned in the book that are prepared for Lunar New Year?
- Can you spot any symbols or colours significant to the Lunar New Year? What do they represent?
- What is the importance of family reunions during the Lunar New Year?
- Can you identify any unique Lunar New Year customs from different cultures?
- What is the significance of the red envelopes exchanged during Lunar New Year?
- How do the characters in the book decorate their homes?
- What special clothes do the characters in the book wear?
- How do the characters wish each other a happy new year?
- Can you find any reference to the animal zodiac in the book? What is the significance of the zodiac?
Lunar New Year Stories
Angel in Beijing by Belle Yang
A young girl finds a lost cat in Beijing on New Year's Eve. During the Dragon Boat Festival, the cat disappears so the girl embarks on a journey through different parts of the city in search of her new friend.
Angel in Beijing promotes discussions on companionship, exploration, and Chinese traditions and festivals.
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
A Chinese-American family prepare for the Lunar New Year, from sweeping out the old year to hanging lanterns for the upcoming celebrations, culminating in a joyful parade to welcome the New Year.
Bringing in the New Year promotes discussions on family unity and shared responsibilities, Lunar New Year customs and celebrations, and sweeping out the old year to welcome the new one, symbolising a fresh start.
Cat and Rat: The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac by Ed Young
Cat and Rat devise a plan to win when a race is held to decide the order of the zodiac animals. However, Rat betrays Cat, resulting in Cat missing out on being a part of the zodiac, explaining why cats and rats are enemies.
Cat and Rat: The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac inspires discussions on betrayal, temptation, integrity, competition, loyalty and relationship skills.
Chinese New Year Colors by Richard Lo
Vivid illustrations introduce colours, objects and traditions integral to Chinese New Year celebrations. Each page reveals a different colour, from hóng (red), the colour of explosive firecrackers, to jīn (gold), the hue of lucky coins.
Chinese New Year Colors, a bilingual book, introduces one of the largest festivals in the world and inspires discussions on cultural traditions and the symbolism of colours.
Chloe’s Lunar New Year by Lily LaMotte
As the New Year draws near, Chloe and her family engage in various preparations: buying new shoes, cleaning the house, and laying out good-luck foods. Among the festive preparations, Chloe remembers loved ones who cannot join the celebration.
Chloe's Lunar New Year promotes discussions on Lunar New Year traditions, togetherness, preparation for new beginnings and remembering loved ones during festive times.
Chopsticks by Jon Berkeley
In Hong Kong, a tiny grey mouse named Chopsticks lives in a floating restaurant. On a New Year's night, Chopsticks uses magic to bring a carved wooden dragon to life. They embark on an exciting high-flying adventure during the full moon of Chinese New Year.
Chopsticks promotes discussions on unlikely friendships, adventures, magic of belief and Chinese New Year.
Dragon Dancer by Joyce Chng
Yao embarks on a magical journey to usher in the Chinese New Year. When he wakes Shen Long, the ancient sky dragon, from his year-long sleep, Yao starts an adventure to drive away bad luck and bring good fortune for the coming year.
Dragon Dancer promotes discussions on cultural traditions, courage, hope, and the significance of rites and rituals.
Friends Are Friends, Forever by Dane Liu
On Chinese New Year's Eve, Dandan and her best friend, Yueyue, share the tradition of making red snowflakes. With a spool of red thread and red paper gifted by Yueyue, Dandan finds solace and continuity in her new home.
Friends Are Friends, Forever explores themes of immigration, adaptability, and the value of friendships and the traditions of the Lunar New Year.
A Gift by Yong Chen
Amy receives a surprise Chinese New Year gift from her aunt and uncles in China. The parcel contains a carved jade pendant shaped like a dragon. The gift fills Amy with joy and connects her to her family's traditions even though they're far away.
A Gift promotes discussions on connecting to our cultural heritage, family bonds and the joy of giving and receiving gifts.
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim
Goldy Luck's mother sends her to visit the neighbouring pandas with turnip cakes. The pandas find a sleeping Goldy Luck on their return home. Embarrassed, she runs home but returns to Chan's home to apologise and clean up her mess.
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas promotes discussions on responsibility, consequences of actions, Lunar New Year customs, forgiveness, and making amends.
The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Christopher Corr
The Jade Emperor holds a race to name each year after the first twelve animals to cross the river. The animals show their unique strengths and strategies, leading to the creation of the Chinese Zodiac.
The Great Race explores competition, cunning, the consequences of our actions and how ambition-driven decisions impact relationships.
Grumpy New Year by Katrina Moore
Daisy visits China for Lunar New Year with her Yeh-Yeh (grandfather). She gets grumpy due to fatigue and anticipation. Daisy worries her grumpiness might affect the celebrations but learns that spending time with loved ones is what matters.
Grumpy New Year promotes discussions on family bonds, Lunar New Year traditions, anticipation, managing emotions and self-management.
How to Catch a Dragon by Adam Wallace
During Chinese New Year, a group of children embark on an exciting journey to catch a wily dragon that winds through the streets of China. This dragon isn't just any creature; it's a symbol of good luck.
How to Catch a Dragon promotes discussions on perseverance, creative thinking, and celebrating cultural traditions like Chinese New Year.
My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz
A young girl learns the customs and traditions of Chinese New Year for the first time. She experiences the preparation and celebration of the festival, from cleaning the house to receiving red envelopes.
My First Chinese New Year promotes discussions on Chinese New Year traditions, family rituals and the joy of new experiences.
New Clothes for New Year's Day by Hyun-Joo Bae
In Korea, the new year means the start of everything new. A young girl is excited to wear a new and special hanbok made by her mother and prepares to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
New Clothes for New Year's Day promotes discussions on cultural pride, traditional clothing, self-reliance, independence and the joy of celebrations.
New Year by Mei Zihan
A father spends the Lunar New Year without his daughter, who has moved to a different country for the first time. He misses her deeply but also understands the importance of her personal growth.
New Year is set during the Lunar New Year celebrations and captures the theme of letting go, personal growth, and the strength of family bonds, even when separated by distance.
A New Year's Reunion by Li-Qiong Yu
When Maomao's father visits during Lunar New Year, the family prepares sticky rice balls with hidden coins. She is devastated when she loses her coin. It is found in time for Maomao to give it to her father as they say goodbye.
A New Year's Reunion promotes discussions on family reunions, longing and anticipation, the observance of the Chinese New Year, and the value of time.