Chinese New Year

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Chinese New Year

Given we’ve just celebrated Chinese New Year, I have been flicking through and cooking from my much loved copy of Kylie Kwong’s ‘Simple Chinese Cooking’. It’s one of those books that I come back to every so often and then think ‘why oh why do I not cook from this book more often’?! And then in a month or so I move to ‘The Best of Spirit House’ (Thai), ‘Saha’ (Middle Eastern) or ‘From India’ (Indian)  – clearly I like to move around the world with my cooking.


I rather like chef Kylie Kwong’s on Chinese New Year, “The most important thing about Chinese New Year is being with your friends and family in heart and spirit.”

There are many children’s book about Chinese New Year floating around in libraries and bookstores but I have two standout favourites: ‘Race for the Chinese Zodiac’ and ‘Fang-Fangs Chinese New Year’.

‘Race for the Chinese Zodiac’, written by Grabielle Wang and illustrated by Sally Rippin and Regine Abos. These talented creators have produced a book that is visually stunning, informative and destined to become a much loved tale for children from the ages 3-12. Wang has skillfully woven Chinese legends regarding the animals of zodiac into a wondrous tale of friendship, betrayal and determination as 13 animals race for their spot in the Chinese Zodiac. The book ends with information about the Chinese years and the animals of the zodiac and personality traits.

The book is much extended by looking at Gabrielle Wangs notes on the book here.

To add this book to your home, school or library collection click here.


‘Fang-Fang’s Chinese New Year’, written and illustrated by Sally Rippin for an early childhood – middle primary audience has themes of frienship, celebrations and mulitcultralism. Main character Fang Fang was born in China, but moved to Australia as a baby and now is Australian. Her mother suggests she invite her blonde haired, blue eyed friend Lisa to celebrate Chinese New Year with them. Fang Fang is convinced she will be completely bored and not eat or understand a thing…you can guess what happens from here.

I love this book for so many reasons! Obviously it’s great for talking about and explaining Chinese New Year and perfect for units on multiculturalism. But it is also a great lesson in celebrating similarities and differences in people, and in food.

To add this book to your home, school or library collection click here. 

Further Ideas for Celebrating Chinese New Year

  • Find China on a map or globe. Discuss and/or write a list of all the things you know about China. Now use a selection of non fiction books and the Internet to find out five additional facts about China.
  • Your class or group will have many different cultural backgrounds represented. Brainstorm a list of all the significant cultural celebrations you can think of including Chinese New Year.
  • How do we celebrate New Years in Australia (or country you are reading this in!)? How do the Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year? Highlight differences and similarities. Try this activity as a venn diagram.
  • Turn home corner into a restaurant celebrating Chinese New Year. Create visual and written lists of all the things you will need and all the roles that will need to be played. Provide chopsticks.
  • ‘Child friendly’ chopsticks are great for fine motor skill development, and eating fun.
  • Give small groups or individuals the task of researching a different animal from the Chinese Zodiac
  • Read the story behind ‘Race for the Chinese Zodiac’ on Gabrielle Wang’s website.
  • Find other books written and/or illustrated by Gabrielle Wang and Sally Rippin. These woman are among my favourite creators of books for children so do follow up on their other books!
  • Visit your local Chinatown. Find out about events they may be holding to celebrate Chinese New Year.
  • These are some great Chinese New Year craft ideas at Red Ted Craft.
  • Well it wouldn’t be a proper Chinese celebration without some food! We are all massive fans of pot sticker dumplings and this Donna Hay recipe is a great one.

PudStar the Chinese Rat  below. Personality traits of people born in the year of the rat:  they may be difficult to work with as they are born perfectionists. Loyal and loving, but their quick wit and restlessness can sometimes lead to chattiness. Well that is all surprisingly spot on. Sigh.

Megan Daley Bio

Looking for more great book reviews and recommendations? I’m Megan Daley and you can find out more about me here.

My book recommendations (for babies to young adults) is here and you can peruse ALL of my reviews (searchable by age, genre and theme) here.

Check out my mini ebook, 'What to Read Next' or sign up for my FREE webinar, '3 Tips to Start the Best Book Club Ever'.

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  1. Victoria Roberts on Feb 22, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Interestingly those two books are my favourite too. Teachers at school this week were all wanting Fang Fang. Had great chat with one class of kids this week about being born in the Year of the Rat, and one of the preschool teachers was saying how hard it is to teach a whole class of ‘tigers’. Such a fun festival for schools.

    • Megan Daley on Feb 22, 2015 at 11:50 pm

      It’s lovely isn’t it! I so enjoy this festival!

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