100 books like Nian, the Chinese New Year Dragon

By Virginia Loh-Hagan, Timothy Banks (illustrator),

Here are 100 books that Nian, the Chinese New Year Dragon fans have personally recommended if you like Nian, the Chinese New Year Dragon. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale

Jillian Lin Author Of Chinese New Year Wishes

From my list on Chinese New Year.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of children’s books about Asian history and culture. My two kids are the main reason I started writing books. When they were little, I had to delve into my Chinese roots for a family reunion. That’s when I stumbled on the most amazing stories about the emperors, warriors, artists, and inventors that make up the long and colorful culture and history of China. I decided to bring these stories to life so that my kids could learn more about their heritage. No dates, no dry details – just interesting stories that they could enjoy and learn in the process. Luckily, they liked them so much that they encouraged me to share my stories with the world.

Jillian's book list on Chinese New Year

Jillian Lin Why did Jillian love this book?

This is a lovely story about a boy called Ming whose family is poor and is struggling to get a proper Chinese New Year dinner on the table. When Ming is sent out to the market to get some rice, he comes home with a magic wok instead, which steals food from a wealthy, but stingy family. Think Robin Hood in the form of a Chinese wok with a mind of its own! As far as I know, this is not a traditional Chinese story, but children (6-8 years) will definitely enjoy reading this book with its cute and colorful illustrations. They’ll even be able to sing along with the wok!

By Ying Chang Compestine, Sebastia Serra (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Runaway Wok as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

When a boy goes to the market to buy food and comes home with an old wok instead, his parents wonder what they'll eat for dinner. But then the wok rolls out of the poor family's house with a skippity-hoppity-ho! and returns from the rich man's home with a feast in tow!

With spirited text and lively illustrations, this story reminds readers about the importance of generosity.


Book cover of Bringing in the New Year

Jillian Lin Author Of Chinese New Year Wishes

From my list on Chinese New Year.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of children’s books about Asian history and culture. My two kids are the main reason I started writing books. When they were little, I had to delve into my Chinese roots for a family reunion. That’s when I stumbled on the most amazing stories about the emperors, warriors, artists, and inventors that make up the long and colorful culture and history of China. I decided to bring these stories to life so that my kids could learn more about their heritage. No dates, no dry details – just interesting stories that they could enjoy and learn in the process. Luckily, they liked them so much that they encouraged me to share my stories with the world.

Jillian's book list on Chinese New Year

Jillian Lin Why did Jillian love this book?

I love all of Grace Lin’s books – we share the same surname after all! Bringing in the New Year is another great one of hers. This board book is meant for the very young (0-3 years), but older kids will learn from it too. It describes how a Chinese family prepares for the Chinese New Year - decorating the house, making dumplings, and wearing new clothes. Celebrations follow with fireworks and lion dancers to scare away the previous year’s bad luck. The fun color illustrations will be a hit with the little ones, especially the fold-out dragon at the end of the book.

By Grace Lin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bringing in the New Year as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

This exuberant story follows a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Each member of the family lends a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings. Then it’s time to put on new clothes and celebrate with family and friends. There will be fireworks and lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a great, long dragon parade to help bring in the Lunar New Year. And the dragon parade in our book is extra long–on a surprise fold-out page at the end of the story. Grace Lin’s artwork is…


Book cover of Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas

Jillian Lin Author Of Chinese New Year Wishes

From my list on Chinese New Year.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of children’s books about Asian history and culture. My two kids are the main reason I started writing books. When they were little, I had to delve into my Chinese roots for a family reunion. That’s when I stumbled on the most amazing stories about the emperors, warriors, artists, and inventors that make up the long and colorful culture and history of China. I decided to bring these stories to life so that my kids could learn more about their heritage. No dates, no dry details – just interesting stories that they could enjoy and learn in the process. Luckily, they liked them so much that they encouraged me to share my stories with the world.

Jillian's book list on Chinese New Year

Jillian Lin Why did Jillian love this book?

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas is a clever Chinese twist on the classic story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Set in modern-day Chinatown, the book for 4 to 8-year olds tells the story of Goldy Luck, who takes a plate of turnip cakes to the neighbors, with the three pandas looking on in the background. As in the original, Goldy leaves behind a mess, but what I like in this retelling is that she returns to the neighbors’ house with rice porridge and helps fix their broken furniture. Another great feature is that the back of the book includes more information about Chinese New Year traditions, decorations, and special foods. Word of warning: if you get this book for your little ones, they might want to try the recipe for turnip cakes!

By Natasha Yim, Grace Zong (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A favorite fairy tale set in a bustling contemporary Chinatown.

It's Chinese 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.

In this funny and festive retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Natasha Yim and Grace Zong introduce a plucky heroine who takes responsibility for her actions and makes a new friend (and a whole plate of turnip cakes!), just in time for Chinese New Year.

Includes back…


Book cover of The Great Race: Story of the Chinese Zodiac

Jillian Lin Author Of Chinese New Year Wishes

From my list on Chinese New Year.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of children’s books about Asian history and culture. My two kids are the main reason I started writing books. When they were little, I had to delve into my Chinese roots for a family reunion. That’s when I stumbled on the most amazing stories about the emperors, warriors, artists, and inventors that make up the long and colorful culture and history of China. I decided to bring these stories to life so that my kids could learn more about their heritage. No dates, no dry details – just interesting stories that they could enjoy and learn in the process. Luckily, they liked them so much that they encouraged me to share my stories with the world.

Jillian's book list on Chinese New Year

Jillian Lin Why did Jillian love this book?

The traditional origin story of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac is retold in this colorful book for children aged 3 to 6. Long ago, the Jade Emperor announced a swimming race and invited all the animals in the kingdom to participate. The first twelve across the river would have a year of the zodiac named after them. Apart from the lovely illustrations, what I really like about this book is the inclusion of not only the English text but also the Chinese translation and Pinyin to help children pronounce the Chinese characters (either simplified or traditional, depending on the edition). The authors even provide a free audio reading of the book in Mandarin on their website.

By Ling Lee, Eric Lee, Rachel Foo (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Race as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Celebrate Chinese New Year and learn how every animal earned its place in the Chinese zodiac by taking part in the Great Race! Discover who will come first to win the ultimate prize, and find out why Cat will never forgive his friend Rat in this ancient folk tale that has been passed from generation to generation.

Praise for Deep in the Woods, the previous title from Christopher Corr:
'... the book looks like a delectable candy box... There is a lesson here - about friendship, and sharing - but the book never feels plodding or pedantic... Which may be…


Book cover of Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China

Maxim Samson Author Of Invisible Lines: Boundaries and Belts That Define the World

From my list on redefining your understanding of geography.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Geography professor at DePaul University with a long-standing obsession with the world, comparing puddle shapes to countries as a small child and subsequently initiating map and flag collections that I cultivate to this day. Having lived in different parts of the UK and the USA, as well as being fortunate enough to travel further afield, I’ve relished the opportunity to explore widely and chat with the people who know their places best. I love books that alter how I look at the planet, and I am particularly intrigued by the subtle ways in which people have shaped our world—and our perceptions of it—both intentionally and inadvertently.

Maxim's book list on redefining your understanding of geography

Maxim Samson Why did Maxim love this book?

How often do we consider the people behind the objects we use every day?

This book offers an unrivalled glimpse into the lives of the female workers who manufacture many of the products we take for granted and, in so doing, provides a human face to China’s rapid development. Through her interactions and interviews, Chang illustrates how the emergence of new industrial metropolises is transforming the opportunities and aspirations of young rural women.

While she does not shy away from showing the grittier aspects of China’s colossal factories, crucially, Chang demonstrates how their workers are autonomous individuals with concerns and dreams both relatable and unfamiliar.

This stimulating read is one of my favourite texts to use with university students, raising, as it does, all sorts of questions about gender, class, culture, and individual agency, but it has much to offer a wider audience, too, not least in providing an important…

By Leslie T. Chang,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Factory Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An eye-opening and previously untold story, Factory Girls is the first look into the everyday lives of the migrant factory population in China.

China has 130 million migrant workers—the largest migration in human history. In Factory Girls, Leslie T. Chang, a former correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Beijing, tells the story of these workers primarily through the lives of two young women, whom she follows over the course of three years as they attempt to rise from the assembly lines of Dongguan, an industrial city in China’s Pearl River Delta.

As she tracks their lives, Chang paints a…


Book cover of Two New Years

Erica Lyons Author Of Zhen Yu and the Snake

From my list on illustrated stories that are Jewish&.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a Jew that is both Ashkenazi and Persian that lives in Hong Kong where I’m raising my Jewish Chinese children, I see Judaism for its rich diversity. I’m passionate about changing people’s perceptions about what Jews look like and where we hail from. We are not a single story. To further that goal, in 2009, I founded Asian Jewish Life - a journal of spirit, society, and culture, have penned book chapters and articles on Jewish Asia, have written children’s books about communities that are Jewish&, and have lectured internationally on related topics. These books are about Jewish communities, but they’re really about family and tradition. Read diverse books! 

Erica's book list on illustrated stories that are Jewish&

Erica Lyons Why did Erica love this book?

This book is a beautiful marriage of Chinese and Jewish cultures.

Living in Hong Kong and raising Chinese Jewish children, it was a joy to find another book that shows where these traditions merge. The lively illustrations and simple text make it the perfect way to show these parallels to children. It is a story about the love of family and tradition. 

By Richard Ho, Lynn Scurfield (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Two New Years as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

This warm and welcoming New Year celebration invites readers to learn about Rosh Hashanah and Lunar New Year traditions and to reflect on the rich blends of cultures and traditions in their own lives. For this multicultural family, inspired by the author's own, two New Years mean twice as much to celebrate! In the fall, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah offers an opportunity to bake challah, dip apples in honey, and lift voices in song. In the spring, the Chinese Lunar New Year brings a chance to eat dumplings, watch dragon dances, and release glowing lanterns that light up…


Book cover of Illustrated Myths & Legends of China: The Ages of Chaos and Heroes

Justine Laismith Author Of Secrets of the Great Fire Tree

From my list on to see the hidden side of Chinese culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being half-Chinese and half-Peranakan, I grew up in a mixed cultural environment but went to secondary school with a strong Chinese culture. I became aware of my inferior knowledge, not just of the language, but also Chinese culture and history. Hence I immersed myself in the Chinese environment. But there is so much in this long and illustrious history of one of the oldest civilisations that my initial motive to learn was soon replaced by a genuine interest. Now I am always on the lookout for anything related to China, its history, and the Chinese culture.

Justine's book list on to see the hidden side of Chinese culture

Justine Laismith Why did Justine love this book?

This book stands out because it delves deeper into popular characters that appear repeatedly in similar books. I have also enjoyed coming across new names and places not previously found. But far from being obscure names, I have encountered these in Chinese fantasy dramas.

Best of all, it includes pictures of relevant artwork and museum artifacts. I get to see these without having to travel to the four corners of the world. Giving us a sense of where we are in place and time, these displays show that throughout the long Chinese history, these legends and myths are integral to the lives of Chinese people.

By Dehai Huang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Illustrated Myths & Legends of China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Illustrated Myths & Legends of China is a profusely illustrated collection of 32 carefully chosen tales of Chinese myth and legend.


With more than 100 illustrations drawn over two thousand years of all aspects of Chinese art—including painting, pottery and porcelain, jade, bronzes and tomb decoration—Illustrated Myths & Legends of China is a vividly written collection of tales of the universe's emergence from chaos, the creation of the world in which the first Chinese people appeared and a depiction of how the many strands of myth and legend have influenced Chinese culture.


An impressive array of heroic figures and rich…


Book cover of The Empty Pot

Victoria Talwar Author Of The Truth About Lying: Teaching Honesty to Children at Every Age and Stage

From my list on honesty you can read with children.

Why am I passionate about this?

Victoria Talwar, PhD, is a professor and the chair of the Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology at McGill University. She is a recognized leading expert on children’s deception and has published numerous articles on children’s honesty and lie-telling behaviors. Dr. Talwar has given workshops to parents, teachers, social workers, and legal professionals. Among other distinctions, she was awarded the Society for Research on Child Development Outstanding Early Career Contributions to Child Development Research award. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Division 7), a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and a member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada. 

Victoria's book list on honesty you can read with children

Victoria Talwar Why did Victoria love this book?

This is my favourite book to read to children about honesty. It illustrates why it is good to tell the truth.

Often books focus on the negative aspects of lying. My research shows that it is important to show there are positive consequences for honesty.

In this book, the Emperor gives a seed to each child in the kingdom, proclaiming, “Whoever can show me their best in a year’s time, shall succeed me to the throne!”. The boy, Ping, plants his seed but it does not grow and he has nothing but an empty pot. He truthfully presents his failure. It turns into a triumphant end when his honesty (even as others are dishonest) is rewarded.

The artwork is delicate and the text simple, but powerful.

By Demi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Empty Pot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

The Empty Pot is Demi's beloved picture book about an honest schoolboy

A long time ago in China there was a boy named Ping who loved flowers. Anything he planted burst into bloom.

The Emperor loved flowers too. When it was time to choose an heir, he gave a flower seed to each child in the kingdom. "Whoever can show me their best in a year's time," he proclaimed, "shall succeed me to the throne!"

Ping plants his seed and tends it every day. But month after month passes, and nothing grows. When spring comes, Ping must go to the…


Book cover of The King and the Seed

Allison Galbraith Author Of Funny Folk Tales for Children

From my list on world folktales for reading to everyone over six.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a storyteller and folktale collector. All my jobs have involved telling stories – as a community librarian, in theatre, in education, and since 2006 as a professional storyteller and writer. I work in schools, festivals, and outdoor education with all sorts of people and their animals. I have honed my skills to find the most enjoyable traditional tales that can be shared widely. I live in Scotland, where I encourage families to read and tell their favourite stories together. Storytelling is a living art form that belongs to everyone. More than anything, I love the natural world, and I bring the magnificence of nature into all my work.

Allison's book list on world folktales for reading to everyone over six

Allison Galbraith Why did Allison love this book?

This is a one-story picture book from another great storyteller, Eric Maddern, with fantastic illustrations by Paul Hess.

I love this clever, funny folktale and have often told it to festival and school audiences. The text is elegant and easy to read for ages 7 plus, but younger children will enjoy having it read to them. The humour in the tale is brilliantly portrayed in Paul Hess's colourful, amusing pictures. Look out for the three blind mice.

As with most folk stories, the meaning or moral of the tale is shown through clever wit and riddle-like logic. This story has a particularly surprising and satisfying end.

By Eric Maddern, Paul Hess (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The King and the Seed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Old King Karnak is worried. He hasn't long to live, and there is no heir to the throne. So he holds a rather unusual competition to find one. Knights and nobles flock to the palace and the King gives each of them a tiny seed to grow. Jack the farmer's son is given a seed too, so he plants it, waters it and waits for it to sprout...



Praise for Nail Soup

"Space should still be found for this beautifully retold folk tale. Paul Hess's illustrations make ordinary household objects seem magically unreal all at the same time." - Carousel


Book cover of The Rock Maiden: A Chinese Tale of Love and Loyalty

Shirin Yim Bridges Author Of Eat Your Peas, Julius! Even Caesar Must Clean His Plate

From my list on children’s stories introducing history and culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a complete history nerd since childhood—since I opened a Christmas present to reveal one of the books I recommend here, People in History. Since then I’ve written 21 children’s books, and published more by other authors as the founder of Goosebottom Books. All these books touch on some aspect of history or culture in one way or the other. There’s always an emphasis or insight into custom, time, or place. Even the adult novels I’m currently working on are historical fiction. I’m still completely enthralled by the many worlds of the past. I even listen to history podcasts when I’m doing the dishes!

Shirin's book list on children’s stories introducing history and culture

Shirin Yim Bridges Why did Shirin love this book?

This book presents mythology from my own Chinese culture—specifically, a legend from Hong Kong, where I lived from the age of seven to sixteen. We used to go on drives into the countryside on the weekends—Hong Kong still had some semblance of countryside then—and we’d often see the Amah Rock looming above us in the distance. This book tells the sad and poignant legend behind that rock. I love how it takes a tale specific to one geographical spot—one small pile of stones—and turns it into a universal story about love and loyalty. What also makes it special is that the author used to be beside me in the backseat of the car. Natasha Yim, a very well-respected children’s author, is my sister.

By Natasha Yim, Pirkko Vainio (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rock Maiden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When her fisherman husband fails to come home after a storm at sea, the beautiful maiden Ling Yee is heartbroken. Every morning, she puts her baby on her back and clambers to the top of a cliff looking for any signs of his return. But day after day, she is disappointed. The villagers try to convince her to give up her vigil. No," she would say, He will come home soon." Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Heavens, takes pity on her grief and turns Ling Yee and her child into stone so that they would mourn no more. The…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Chinese New Year, China, and folklore?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Chinese New Year, China, and folklore.

Chinese New Year Explore 7 books about Chinese New Year
China Explore 597 books about China
Folklore Explore 353 books about folklore