I thought I’d share some of my favorite kids (and grown-up!) books for Chinese New Year. Sometimes it’s hard to find children’s books that are culturally educational, yet don’t get too dragged down with cultural details or are set in Chinatown, which is a concept my kids can’t relate to.
Thanks to a buy $10 worth of books, get a free book deal through my son’s Scholastic book order, I got Bringing In the New Year by Taiwanese American author Grace Lin. This is a short picture book, good for preschoolers or early elementary age kids. It has cute illustrations and uses Pinyin romanization for Mandarin words.
This Next New Year by Janet S. Wong was the first Asian American book I bought for my kids, and is still one of my favorites. It’s a picture book, but a little longer and more detailed than Bringing In the New Year, and follows a boygoing through the traditions of getting ready for Lunar New Year. One interesting thing about this story is that the main character is half-Chinese and half-Korean (like my new baby nephew), and both cultures are discussed. I think we’ll have to get this book for him!
Finally, since second generation Asian American kids often are expected to learn cultural traditions without explicit explanation, I’m including Rosemary Gong’s Good Luck Life. It’s sort of an instruction manual to Chinese celebrations — not just New Year, but birthdays, weddings, new babies, 60th birthday parties, and everything else your parents didn’t tell you about. This would make a good wedding present for anybody marrying a Chinese (for that matter, Asian) person. Caveat: Good Luck Life refers to Cantonese terms, and maybe some traditions that are more local to southern China. Still, it’s very informational.
My wishlist: a book which talks about Chinese or Asian traditions from the perspective of a multi-cultural family. And how about a book which addresses some of the peculiarities of Taiwanese culture ? Perhaps that’s a market for me to consider…