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Great Books for Lunar New Year

January 19, 2023

As we ring in the Year of the Rabbit with the Lunar New Year this weekend, we wanted to share some fantastic book titles from the Success Academy Education Institute team to help students (and adults!) learn about the many rich cultures and people who celebrate this holiday.

Grades K–4:
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
Exciting for even the youngest readers, Bringing in the New Year is a vibrant exploration of Lunar New Year traditions that follows a Chinese American family as they prepare to celebrate together.

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Lin, Illustrated by Grace Zong
As its name suggests, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas is a funny and festive rendition of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It is Lunar New Year, and Goldy Luck’s mother wants her to take a plate of turnip cakes to the neighbors. The Chans aren’t home, but that doesn’t stop Goldy from trying out their rice porridge, their chairs, and their beds—with disastrous results. This book also includes back matter about Chinese New Year and a recipe for turnip cakes.

The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang, Illustrated by Sally Rippin
In this artful retelling of a classic Chinese folktale, thirteen animals compete for just twelve places on the Chinese Zodiac by using all sorts of schemes and strategies. Children and adults alike will appreciate the book’s illustrations, which are based on Chinese painting techniques, as well as the opportunity to learn more about their own Zodiac signs.

Grades 5–8
The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
This modern young adult classic follows the adventures of a Chinese American girl named Pacy over the course of one year: the Chinese Year of the Dog. While her mother tells her that this will be a year of good fortune, Pacy will have to search within herself before she can find the luck she’s been promised.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
American Born Chinese interweaves stories spanning the 16th century (the Monkey King fable) to present day (a Chinese-American student trying to fit in at school). The result is a powerful and humorous graphic novel that tackles weighty subjects—racism, shame, friendship—and explores the impact of the American Dream on those outside the dominant culture.

Grades 9–12
Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi
Yolk tells the story of two estranged daughters of Korean immigrants who lead comically different lives in New York and want nothing to do with each other—that is, until one of them is diagnosed with cancer. Told with tenderness and humor, this novel explores the emotional experience of straddling two different cultures, navigating family dynamics and expectations, and striving to find comfort in one’s own skin.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
In this classic, intricately structured novel, four Chinese immigrant mothers and their American-born daughters grapple with loss and adversity in mid-twentieth century San Francisco. Though it’s told through a number of different perspectives, The Joy Luck Club is unified by a message of hope, empathy, and familial resilience that spans generations.

The Land of Big Numbers: Stories by Te-Ping Chen
With these ten stories, largely set in China, Te-Ping Chen alternates with astonishing ease between individuals and communities, the settled middle-class and rural poverty, active dissidents and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) loyalists. A blend of cultural criticism, innovative storytelling, and diverse perspectives, this collection weaves together the real and the fantastical to create a beautifully complex tapestry of present-day China.

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