Books and Library Events to Ring in the Year of the Mouse/Rat | 新年快樂 | 새해 복 많이 받으세요 | Chúc Mừng Năm Mới

By Michelle Lee
January 22, 2020
Allerton Library

Indian Gerboa Rat; NYPL Digital Collections, image 414783

The Lunar New Year will arrive early this year and billions of  people worldwide of Asian heritage will celebrate the Year of the Mouse/Rat on New Year’s Eve this Friday, January 24, and New Year’s Day, this Saturday, January 25.

The mouse/rat is the start of a new zodiac cycle and the animal is known for being smart, adaptable and resourceful. While New Year festivities vary based on each country and cultural background, common activities include pre-New Year home cleaning and decorating, getting together with family and friends for special meals and feasts, lighting firecrackers or fireworks, attending parades and special holiday shows and going to temples and/or churches to pray for good luck, fortune and health.

The Lunar New Year goes by other names as well, depending on the culture: Chinese New Year/ 新年 or The Spring Festival/春節; Korean New Year /새해 or Seollal/ 설날; Vietnamese New Year/ Tết or Tết Nguyên Đán; Tibetan New Year / Losar / ལོ་གསར་ (February 24); and Mongolian New Year / White Moon / Tsagaan Sar / Цагаан сар (February 23). The Japanese New Year/正月/Shōgatsu or Oshōgatsu used to follow the lunar calendar until 1873 when the holiday celebration switched to celebrating on January 1 with the Gregorian (solar) calendar.

The dishes used to ring in the Lunar New Year also vary widely based on country and regional cuisine. Traditional Chinese New Year foods served during the holiday include nian gao / nien go/ New Year’s rice cake / 年糕 , tang yuan / sweet rice dumplings/ 湯圓, , noodles, steamed fish and vegetarian dishes. Traditional Korean New Year foods include tteokguk  / 떡국 / sliced rice cake soup, mandu /만두/dumplings, and ogok-bap / 오곡밥 / five-grain rice. Traditional Vietnamese New Year foods include bánh chưng / bánh tét / sticky rice cakes with mung beans and meat, xôi gấc / sticky rice with jackfruit, and boiled chicken. Traditional Tibetan New Year dishes include guthuk / དགུ་ཐུག / a nine-ingredient dough-ball stew, and khapse/ ཁ་ཟས་། /  a fried pastry. Traditional Mongolian New Year dishes include buuz / Бууз / steamed meat dumpling, uuts / sheep, and ul boov / ул боов / a shoe-sole pastry. For a more in-depth description on various Lunar New Year traditions and foods, additional reading suggestions and lesson plans, visit the New York City Department of Education's online educational guide.        

Discover various Lunar New Year traditions and stories or explore your Chinese zodiac sign and astrology for the upcoming year with this selection of library books and films for children, teens and adults in five different languages. Select notable books have a brief description or review. Others book descriptions contain summaries provided by the respective publishers.

Children, teens and families may also attend free Lunar New Year-related events at several libraries throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island and Roosevelt Island from January to April.

Happy New Year/ good luck in ...

Mandarin and Cantonese            新年快樂       Xin nian kuai le / sun nien fai lok           
Korean                                                    새해 복 많이 받으세요     Sae hae bok mani badeuseyo  
Vietnamese                                          Chúc Mừng Năm Mới           

Tibetan                                                    ༄༅།།ལོ་གསར་ལ་བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས་ཞུ།     Losar la Tashi Delek          

Mongolian                                            Сар шинэдээ сайхан шинэлээрэ      Sar shinedee saihan shineleerei

Lunar New Year Library Events


Battery Park City Library, 175 North End Ave

Crafternoon: Chinese New Year: Wednesday, January 22, 4 PM

Chatham Square Library, 33 East Broadway

Family Literacy Workshop: Chinese New Year Playdate 兒童早期讀寫認知講習班: 新年遊戲活動 : Monday, January 27, 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Chinese Calligraphy for Adults :書法 : Monday, January 27, 1 -3 PM

Riverside  Library, 127 Amsterdam  Ave

Lunar New Year Craft: Tuesday, January 28, 3- 4 PM

Spring Festival & Chinese Zodiac Paper-Cutting (for teens): Monday, February 26, 3:30 PM

Tompkins Square Library, 331 East 10th St

Lunar New Year Craft: Wednesday, January 29, 4-5 PM

Columbus Library, 742 10th Ave

Spring Festival & Chinese Zodiac Paper-Cutting (for teens): Tuesday, April 14, 3:30 PM

The Bronx

Allerton Library, 2740 Barnes AveChinese New Year Lucky Envelope Craft :  Thursday, January 23, 4 – 5 PM

Bronx Library Center, 310 East Kingsbridge Road

ABC Diner: Mooncakes for Lunar New Year: Thursday, January 23, 4 – 5 PM

Lunar New Year Calligraphy: Friday, January 24, 4 – 5 PM

Van Cortlandt Library, 3822 Cannon Place

Spring Festival & Chinese Zodiac Paper-Cutting (for teens): Wednesday, April 8, 3:30 PM

Staten Island

Port Richmond Library, 77 Bennet St

Teen Lunar New Year Celebration (for teens): Wednesday, January 22, 3 p.m.

Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island Library, 524 Main St

Spring Festival & Chinese Zodiac Paper-Cutting (for teens): Monday, February 3, 4:30 PM


Lunar New Year Books in English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Arabic| 新年書 | 새해 책 | Libros del Año Nuevo Lunar en Español | كتاب السنة الصينية الجديدة


Books for Children, Educators and Families

12 Lucky Animals: A Bilingual Baby Book, by Vickie Lee, illustrated by Joey Chou

This cute, colorful board book profiles all of the animals in the Chinese zodiac and lists their personality traits. The book is primarily in English with Chinese characters for the name of each animal accompanied by a pronunciation guide. 


0-4 sui you er cai hong ren zhi tu jian. Jie qing pian / You fu bian ji bu bian ji ; Marttin Lau hui.

0-4歲幼兒彩虹認知圖鑑. 節慶篇 / 幼福編輯部編輯 ; Marttin Lau繪.

A! you nian shou/ hui tu Du Xiao'er.

啊! 有年獸 / 繪圖 杜小爾.

Guo nian : chu xi ye, Zhongguo nian/ Ai Dena zhu ; Wu Jiahong hui.

过年 : 除夕夜.中国年 / 艾德娜 著 ; 吴嘉鸿 绘.

What the Rat Told Me: A Legend of the Chinese Zodiac, by Marie Sellier, Catherine Louis and Wang Fei

Ever wonder why rats fear cats and how the Chinese zodiac animals were selected? The legendary tale is re-told again in this picture book via black, white and red ink-wash paintings coupled with ancient and traditional calligraphy. 

Ten Mice for Tết, by Pegi Deitz Shea and Cynthia Weill, illustrated by Tô Ngọc Trang ; embroidery by Phạm Vîét Đinh

This embroidered counting book follows a group of mice as they prepare their homes and village to celebrate Tết Nguyên Đán. A detailed afterword explains the symbolism and significance all of the preparation and celebrations taking place before and during the Vietnamese holiday. 

New Year, by Rich Lo

In this brightly-illustrated book, young boy from Hong Kong moves to Los Angeles and bonds with his new teacher and classmates by creating Lunar New Year decorations and sharing his cultural heritage. 

Bringing in the New Year, by Grace Lin

A little girl is excited to celebrate the Lunar New Year as she helps her family prepare for a party by decorating the home and making dumplings. This bright and colorful picture book for young children is accompanied by a holiday description. 

New Clothes for New Year’s Day, by Hyun-Joo Bae

A little girl is excited to put on special new outfit for New Year’s Day and it takes quite some time and energy to get dressed for the celebration. The book also includes a description of how the Lunar New Year is celebrated by Koreans and explains the significance of her clothes and accessories.

Sŏlbim : yŏja ai koun ot / Pae Hyŏn-ju kŭl, kŭrim
설빔 : 여자아이고운옷 / 배현주글·그림

Sŏlbim : Namja ai mŏtchin ot / Pae Hyŏn-ju kŭl, kŭrim
설빔 : 남자아이멋진옷 / 배현주글·그림

Wo de xin yi / Pei Xianzhu wen tu ; Pu Pulan yi

我的新衣 / 裴贤珠文图 ; 蒲蒲兰译.

New Year’s clothing – A boy’s splendid outfit. Chinese. This book is about Korean New Year's traditions.  Er shi yi shi ji chu ban she.

The Nian Monster, by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Alina Chu

As Xingling and her family prepare to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Shanghai, the Nian monster shows up to spoil the festivities and bring bad luck to everyone. The little girl must figure out a way to outsmart the beast before the holiday is ruined.

Nian chu xi de gu shi / wen: Hengzhan ; tu: Zhongmin ; zhu bian: Zhao Zhenwan ; Yu Xiafang yi.

年除夕的故事 / 文: 恒展 ; 图: 冢珉 ; 主编: 赵镇琬 ;余霞芳译.

Nian shou lai le = Nian beast is coming / gai bian Huang Huimin ; tu Liu Bole.

年獸來了 = Nian beast is coming / 改編 黃慧敏 ; 圖 劉伯樂.Nian gao de gu shi / wen: Kou Tian ; tu: Yang Shilin ; zhu bian: Zhao Zhenwan.

年糕的故事 / 文: 寇天 ; 图: 杨士林 ; 主编: 赵镇琬.

"Story of the new year cake." Shi er sheng xiao de gu shi / Wei Yaxi deng bian zhu.

十二生肖的故事 / 魏亞西等編著.

Twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac. 

A New Year's Reunion, by Yu Li-Qiong, illustrated by Zhu Cheng-Liang

This slice-of-life picture book follows Maomao and her family's once a year reunion with Papa, who takes a break from his far-away urban construction job and returns to their countryside home. While the book portrays many familiar Lunar New Year activities, the holiday is bittersweet since the visit only lasts four days. Papa's eventual parting and the effect his absence has on Maomao reflects the reality experienced by many working-class families in rural China when one or both parents become migrant workers to improve their economic situation.      

Tuan yuan / Yu Liqiong wen ; Zhu Chengliang tu.
團圓 / 余麗瓊文 ; 朱成梁圖.

Una reunión de año nuevo / Yu Liqiong ; ilustraciones de Zhu Chengliang ; traducción, Udo Araiza.

El año nuevo chino está por comenzar y la víspera, un hombre llega a la casa de Maomao. Ella no está segura de quién es él ni por que la abraza con tanto cariño. Sin embargo,luego de ir a la peluquería y comenzar los preparativos para el festival de los faroles, ala niña se le revela un rostro conocido: es su papá que ha vuelto para compartir la celebración con su familia. Una historia que visibiliza, a partir de la migración de uno de sus miembros, una forma de convivencia familiar y nos acerca a la tradición china.  (Descripción del libro proporcionado a través del catálogo de NYPL, que se basa en múltiples fuentes. )

Ruby’s Chinese New Year, by Vickie Lee, illustrated by Joey Chou

In this retelling of the Chinese Zodiac race, Ruby meets all of the legendary animals during a trip to Grandmother’s house for the Lunar New Year. She also learns a valuable lesson when an accident changes her holiday plans.

Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-The-Flap Book, by Joan Holub, illustrated by Benrei Huang

Readers follow a Chinese family every step of the way as they get ready for and celebrate the Lunar New Year. The playful pop-up flaps bring an extra layer of action, surprise and reader engagement to the story.

Dragon Dancer, by Joyce Chng, illustrated by Jeremy Pailler

In this dramatic picture book, Yao, a teenage boy, encounters the ancient dragon Shen Long. The pair forms an intense bond as they dance away the bad luck and usher in good luck for the new year. 

The Year of the Rat, by Grace Lin

Changes abound in the year of the rat for Pacy Lin, a Taiwanese American girl from Connecticut. Her best friend, Melody, might move away to California. Her favorite cousin, Clifford, is getting married. Plus, she struggles to befriend the new kid, Dun-Lei, the only other Chinese student in her school.

Follow Pacy as she spends the year adjusting to all the new things happening in her life while pursuing her dream of to be an artist and writer. Readers of this semi-biographical elementary-school novel experience a Lunar New Year celebration and other Chinese holidays and traditions with the Lin family, such as a wedding and the Autumn Moon Festival.

Celebrate Chinese New Year, by Carolyn Otto, consultant Haiwang Yuan

Children, families and educators looking for a simple explanation of the Lunar New Year activities and event will enjoy this National Geographic for Kids non-fiction book, which includes colorful photos from celebrations around the world and additional teaching and educational resources.

Korean Celebrations: Festivals, Holidays and Traditions, by Tina Cho, illustrated by Farida Zaman

Discover fun facts, foods and crafts connected to various Korean holidays, festivals and celebrations throughout the calendar year with this non-fiction picture book. The first section focuses on the Lunar New Year and includes descriptions of special holiday dishes such as mandu (dumplings) and dduk guk / tteokguk (rice cake soup) and celebratory games, such as yut-nori ( a board game) and yeon (kite flying and fighting).

Chinese New Year: A Celebration for Everyone, by Jen Sookfong Lee

Canadian broadcaster and writer Jen Sookfong Lee charts the mythology and evolution of Lunar New Year celebrations and how it spread around the world while including some historical facts about China and overseas migration. Lee’s book also chronicles her own experiences growing up in Vancouver's Chinatown and shares similar stories from other Canadians. The non-fiction book for elementary and middle school students includes many colorful photographs, recipes, and inspirational quotes from notable Chinese Canadians and Chinese Americans.  

Chun jie : ci jiu ying xin guo da nian / Wang Zaozao zhu wen ; Li Jian, Shen Bing hui tu.

春节 : 辞旧迎新过大年 / 王早早著文 ; 李剑, 沈冰绘图.

¡Es el Año Nuevo Chino! / por Richard Sebra; traducción al español por Giessi Lopez

Con texto organizado cuidadosamente en niveles y fotografias frescas y vibrantes captamos la atención de los jóvenes lectores para que aprendan sobre las tradiciones y celebraciones del Año Nuevo Chino. Además de contar con un glosario de imágenes, ayudamos a desarrollar habilidades de lectura informativa con preguntas de pensamiento crítico apropiadas para esta edad. ( Descripción del libro proporcionado a través del catálogo de NYPL, que se basa en múltiples fuentes.)

Año Nuevo Chino, by Aaron Carr

¿Sabias que hay 12 animales en el calendario chino? Cada año Nuevo Chino, uno de los libros de Celebremos las fechas patrias. (Descripción del libro proporcionado a través del catálogo de NYPL, que se basa en múltiples fuentes. )

小李的農曆新年 = Li's Chinese New Year / Wang Fang ; illustrated by Jennifer Corfield, Cantonese translation by Sylvia Denham

It's nearly Chinese New Year and Li just can't wait, but which animal is he going to be for the special school assembly? Will he be a fierce tiger or a strong ox? And which year will his new cousin be born in. (Book summary provided via NYPL’s catalog, which draws from multiple sources.)

Lī wa-raʼs al-sanah al-Ṣīnīyah= Li's Chinese New Year  = لي وراس السنة الصينية / Fang Wang; illustrated by Jennifer Corfield ; Arabic translation by Wafá Tarnowska.

Books for Teens and Adults

Fruits Basket, by Natsuki Takaya

After the tragic death of her mother, high school student Tohru Honda finds solace, friendship and support with the powerful and mysterious Sohma family, whose members are cursed and turn into various Chinese zodiac animals. This classic high school drama/romance manga is one of the most popular Japanese comic series of all time and has been made into a sequel comic series, a spin-off and two anime television series. 

Heart of the Rat: An Anthology, edited by Christopher Howell

The anthology contains work from former Washington State Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken, two-time Pushcart Prize winner Ellen Bass, as well as Spokane poets Maya Zeller, Tim Greenup, and others. This book is the first in Willow Springs Books' Zodiac Poetry Series. Each year we plan to publish an anthology of poetry and short prose that focuses on a different animal. The first in the Chinese Zodiac is the rat, a complex figure ‘that has become terrible, mythic, and beatific by turns in our literature and in our lives.’ (Book summary provided via NYPL’s catalog, which draws from multiple sources. )

The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes, 40th anniversary edition, by Theodora Lau and Laura Lau, calligraphy and illustrations by Kenneth Lau

Astrology fans can delve deep into their Chinese zodiac signs and horoscopes with this detailed guide. Find out the personality traits for your lunar astrological and elemental sign. Gain insight and suggestions on how to manage your career, home, finances, love life and relationships with family, friends, colleagues and children.

Your Chinese Horoscope for Each and Every Year, by Neil Somerville

Fortunes may rise and fall depending on your zodiac sign and the animal of the year, according to Chinese astrology. Learn more about the different personalities, strengths and weaknesses of all the Chinese zodiac animals and figure out your horoscope opportunities and prospects for the upcoming Year of the Mouse/Rat and all the other astrological signs.

She jian shang de xin nian = A bite of China celebrating the Chinese New Year/ Chen Xiaoqing deng zhu.

舌尖上的新年 = A bite of China celebrating the Chinese New Year / 陈晓卿等著

Chao bao kai yun wang/ zuo zhe Li Juming.

潮爆開運王 / 作者李居明.

Shi er xing zuo, xue xing, sheng xiao shen bi mi ma/ bian zhu: Shui Yanjun.十二星座血型生肖神祕密碼 / 編著: 水炎君.

Introducción a la astrología china / Introduction to Chinese Astrologyby Ludovica Squirru Dari.

Ludovica Squirru nos brinda en este libro las claves para ingresar en el mundo de la Astrologia china. Con su estilo fresco, claro, poetico y clarividente, la autora nos acerca esta sabiduria milenaria y nos pone en contacto con su tematica: Los doce animales que conforman los signos del zodiaco chino; como buscar el signo y el ascendente; las energias de cada signo y sus relaciones; las compatibilidades entre los distintos signos; la personalidad de cada signo y sus caracteristicas en relacion con el trabajo, el dinero, el amor, la familia; la conjugacion con el horoscopo occidental. Esta obra es una guia para recorrer un camino de apertura, de crecimiento y transformacion, y una herramienta para perfeccionar en el dia a dia el arte de la convivencia armoniosa. / Ludovica gives us the keys to the world of Chinese astrology. With her visionary style, the author brings us this ancient wisdom: The twelve animals that make the signs of the Chinese zodiac. It shows how to improve the art of harmonious coexistence. ( Descripción del libro proporcionado a través del catálogo de NYPL, que se basa en múltiples fuentes.)