Storytime with Jessica – Chinese New Year

Xīn Nián Kuài Lè

Chinese New Year is coming up on Friday 16 February 2018 and this year is the year of the Earth Dog. The dog is the eleventh of the 12-year zodiac cycle. The Year of the Dog runs from 16 February 2018 to 4 February 2019.

1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, and 2006 were previous years of the Dog. 1958 was the last year of the Earth Dog.

There are lots of places in WA where you can join in on Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year festivities and learn more about what happens on that day, but today I’m going to share some books with you about this holiday, along with a few songs in Mandarin and a craft.

The Books

The Nian Monster by Andrea Wong

The legendary Nian monster has returned at Chinese New Year. Nian is intent on devouring Shanghai, starting with young Xingling! But Xingling is clever and thinks quickly to outwit him with Chinese New Year traditions.

My first Chinese New Year by Karen Katz Chinese

New Year is a time of new beginnings. Follow one little girl as she learns how to welcome the coming year and experience all the festivities surrounding it.

A New Year’s Reunion by Yu Li-Qiong and Zhu Cheng-Liang

Maomao’s father works very far away from her and only returns once a year – at New Year. At first, Maomao hardly recognises her father but soon they are making sticky rice balls, visiting, playing in the snow, and more to celebrate New Year before he has to leave them again to return to work.

New Year Surprise! by Christopher Cheng and Di Wu

It’s Chinese New Year, and this year Little Brother has a special job to so…but it’s a surprise and as he and his family go through their traditions he waits to see what he will get to do this year.

This book was Notable in the 2017 Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year – Picture Book awards.

While you are talking about the Chinese New Year, did you know we have a selection of books written in both Chinese and English like:

Cai Lun was called into the Palace to serve the Emperor at the age of 15. He was smart and studied hard. Soon he was promoted to be an attending official in charge of documentation. At that time, documents were written either on tablets of bamboo strips or on silk. Bamboo strips were heavy and silk were expensive. The Emperor was very unhappy about it. Therefore, Cai Lun was determined to find another durable material that would be good for writing including a light-weight quality with a soft writing surface. Cai Lun began his experiments with all the cheap natural material that he could find such as dry grass, bark, fishnet and old ropes. With the support from the Emperor and the help of the imperial craftsmen, Cai Lun successfully invented “paper” after many attempts. The innovation of paper made it possible to keep records and also paintings.

Songs and Rhymes

The first is also sung in English. Thank you to Kathryn, who sourced all of these songs for me.


Being the Year of the Dog I thought what better way to celebrate through craft than encouraging children to draw. Drawing has lots of benefits – it improves fine motor skills, develops hand-eye coordination, builds the muscles we use to write, and engages imagination, develops visual literacy, and is one of our first ways of expressing ideas to others non-verbally.

So…let’s draw a dog!

Print this Template, then have a look at, and talk about, the different ways of saying Happy New Year!
Xīn Nián Kuài Lè!
then draw a dog, and decorate it however you desire.

If you’d like to hear the books I’ve been talking about today, come and visit us at Success Library for a Chinese New Year themed Storytime on Tuesday 13 and/or Friday 16 January 2018 at 9:30am.

gōng xǐ gōng xǐ (恭禧恭禧)