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February 12, 2021

My Lunar New Year book list — from childhood to today

Today marks the start of the Lunar New Year. In my household, our New Year’s traditions include wearing new clothes, eating a piece of sugar cane first thing in the morning, and not showering on the day of Lunar New Year to avoid washing away our luck. We also eat Chinese New Year cake, nian gao, and other sweets like oranges and starburst to ensure a sweet new year.

Growing up both Jewish and Chinese, my mother made it a point to make sure that both parts of my heritage were equally represented in my life, and that included the books we kept on our shelves.

My favorite book was Mei Li by Thomas Handforth published in 1938. Mei Li follows a girl who wants to attend Chinese New Year festivities but is not invited because girls are not allowed to attend, but sneaks out and goes with her brother anyway and has a great adventure. Beautiful black and white brushstroke illustrations fill the book.

In honor of the Lunar New Year, the most important holiday in China, here are the books that still line the shelves of my childhood bedroom back home.
lunar new year

Children’s Books

Er-lang and the Suns, A Tale from China retold by Tony Guo and Euphine Cheung

Tye May and the Magic Brush by Molly Garrett Bang

The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese

Disney’s Mulan

China’s Bravest Girl, the Legend of Hua Mu Lan told by Charlie Chin

The Empty Pot by Demi

The Artist and the Architect by Demi

Demi’s Dragons and Fantastic Creatures

The Treasure Chest, a Chinese Tale retold by Rosalind C. Wang

Dragon Kite of the Autumn Moon by Valerie Reddix

The Five Chinese Brothers

The Topsy-Turvy Emperor of China by Isaac Bashevis Singer

The Dragon’s Robe by Deborah Nourse Lattimore

The Journey of Meng by Doreen Rappaport

The Chinese Siamese Cat by Amy Tan

The Great Wall of China by Leonard Everett Fisher

The Dragon’s Pearl by Julie Lawson and Paul Morin

The Moon Lady by Amy Tan

Mei Li by Thomas Handforth

Chin Yu Min and the Ginger Cat by Jennifer Armstrong

One Small Girl by Jennifer L. Chan

lunar new year

Young Adult Books

American Dragons, 25 Asian American Voices edited by Laurence Yep

The Moon Guitar by Marie Niemeyer

The Golem & the Dragon Girl by Sonia Levitin

First Apple by Ching Yeung Russell

Folktale of China edited by Wolfram Eberhard

Chinese Fairy Tales & Fantasies translated & edited by Moss Roberts

Books about the Chinese New Year

Dragon Parade by Steven A. Chin

A Visit to China by Mary Packard

Chinese New Year by Tricia Brown

Adults Books

The Joy Luck Club: A Novel by Amy Tan

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