Monday, January 7, 2013

Guest Post: Books for Chinese New Year

photo_dragonToday’s book post is from Josianne Fitzgerald. Josianne is the elementary librarian at the International School of Tianjin. She has agreed to do all 3 posts this week - YAY! I've never known much about the Chinese New Year. Here is my big chance to learn! And your chance, too!

Read more information about Josianne below.


 Books for Chinese New Year

by Josianne Fitzgerald
This year, the Chinese New Year will fall start on 10 February. The celebration will last for two weeks and is also called the Spring Festival, as it marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

Here is a list of my favorite books to read aloud during Chinese New Year. I always start out with the non-fiction to tune in to what the students already know and to help them make connections from that prior knowledge to the fiction stories that will follow.


One Year in Beijing by Wang Xioahong.
This book follows Ling Ling, a young girl in Beijing, throughout the year. While this is not dedicated only to the Spring Festival, it helps set the celebration within the calendar year.


Celebrations! by Anabel and Barnaby Kindersley.
The two author photographers traveled the world for a year looking at how children and their families celebrate holidays. Chinese New Year is included in the section for spring celebrations. I like this non-fiction book because of its beautiful and plentiful photographs, and the interviewed children's perspective on the holidays they celebrate.

 Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats by Nina Simmonds, Leslie Schwarz and the Children's Museum of Boston.
This book presents facts, tales and activities for several Chinese holidays including Chinese New Year. The watercolor illustrations are beautiful and colorful. This is a book that I bring out for a short read at each of the holidays featured: Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival, Tomb Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.

 Bringing In the New Year by Grace Lin.
Colorful illustrations and a simple text convey the excitement of the Chinese New Year. A trio of Chinese American girls get ready for the celebration. They sweep the old luck away, get new haircuts and clothes, put up rhyming couplets and decorate their house. At the end, they go to the parade where a dragon takes center stage.

 The Dragon New Year: A Chinese Legend by David Bouchard and Zhong-Yang Huang.
A Chinese grandmother explains to her young granddaughter, who is frightened by the noisy, bright fireworks on the eve of Chinese New Year, how it came to be that Chinese people celebrate the holiday with bright lights and much noise. The illustrations by Zhong-Yang Huang are magnificent, full of detail and drama. Combined with David Bouchard's lyrical text, this is a perfect story for lap reading on a dark winter's night.


The Kitchen God by Kim Xiong.
Many families in China have a kitchen god who watches over them, both to protect them and to make sure they are behaving. Shortly before the Chinese New Year, the Kitchen God will travel to the Jade Palace to report on the family to the Heavenly Emperor. In this cheerfully illustrated story, a family makes sure that the Kitchen God presents a favorable report despite their occasional misbehaviours. While the translation from the Chinese is a bit clunky at times, the illustrations by Kim Xiong are superb.

 Long-Long's New Year: A Story about the Spring Festival by Catherine Gower and He Zhihong.
This is hands-down my favorite book to read aloud. Set in modern day China, this is the story of Long-Long and his grandfather, who go to the big city to sell cabbages from their farm. They run into trouble and Long-Long worries that they will not be able to sell enough cabbages for all the shopping they would like to do for the Spring Festival. The illustrations are wonderful, watercolor on rice paper. The street market where the story takes place is mostly a thing of the past now, as they have been replaced by indoor markets that are warmer and more sanitary, at least in the larger cities. Still, the illustrations remind me of what markets used to be like 12 years ago when we first arrived in China. That, the detailed illustrations and the heart-warming story of little Long-Long, make this a great book to share.

 The Run-Away Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale by Ying Yang Compestine.
This cheerful tale is perfect for a read-aloud. Bright illustrations add to the fun. A poor Chinese man who works for the richest man in Beijing trades his family's last eggs for a magic wok that changes their fortunes, and that of the rich man, forever.

Josianne Fitzgerald is the elementary librarian at the International School of Tianjin. She has been an international school teacher for 17 years. Originally, she and her husband thought to travel the world as international educators and taught in Venezuela, Egypt, and Lebanon before coming to China and falling in love with its culture and dynamism. They have been in Tianjin for 12 years and will remain for at least one more.

As a librarian, Josianne is committed to helping students inquire meaningfully into themes of their interest. Along with her students, she is learning to tap the rich resources of the Internet and is supremely happy to be living in the 21st century.

She blogs on library matters for her international school community at IST Library and Information Literacy Center. She tweets on library and information technology under the handle @fitziane.

What a wonderful bunch of books! The posts on Wednesday and Friday will have more information about Chinese New Year. Such fun!

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