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Happy New Year — All Year Round!

Happy 2020!

Perhaps, like people all around the world who follow the Gregorian calendar, you just marked the new year with ceremony, ritual, or a party. (My husband and I sent our daughter and son-in-law out for their first date in six months while we stayed in with our grandchildren. As our new granddaughter slept, we shared dinner, sparkling cider, and a sweet conversation with our five-year-old grandson about “big things and small things” that happened in the old year and our wishes for the new.)

Or perhaps, like many others around the world, you mark the new year at another time. For instance, according to NDTV, India's diverse population and many religions means that this single country recognizes a new year at many different times:

As per the solar calendar, the new year is celebrated during the spring harvest time on April 13/14/15 as Vaisakhi or Baisakhi in north and central India, Rongali Bihu in Assam, Tamil Putthandu in Tamil Nadu, Vishu in Kerala, Bishuva Sankranti in Odisha and Poila Boishakh in Bengal.

As per the lunar calendar, new year is celebrated in various parts of India during March/April. Ugadi is the New Year's Day for the Hindus of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana. Gudi Padwa is celebrated in Maharashtra, Goa and Konkan belt as new year. Cheiraoba in Manipur, Navreh in Kashmir and Cheti Chand is celebrated by Sindhi Hindus as new year. In Gujarat, Bestu Varas is celebrated around October/November time as new year.

Richa Taneja, NDTV

One title in our collection, Every Month Is A New Year, goes through the calendar, sharing information about start-of-year celebrations at different times in different countries, from Iran to New Zealand to Chile. Oriented like a calendar, it offers an opportunity to explore our human differences through the lens of our commonalities, and could make a great study unit for an elementary school classroom.


Ideally, this title would be paired with other picture book titles about a single new year's event. The good news is that the most well-known of these celebrations — Chinese New Year — is a popular topic for picture books. Our collection includes fifteen titles about Chinese New Year (see the first 15 of this search), including this gem by Grace Lin. You can use any of these titles to welcome the Year of the Rat on Saturday, January 25.

Enhance your exploration of our featured title and others with ideas from this post on publisher Lee and Low’s blog, “Classroom Books and Resources for Lunar New Year.”


The bad news is that we've only found a single picture book that features any other lunar new year celebration -- the Vietnamese Tet (which falls on the first new moon of the lunar calendar in late January/early February). Lunar new year traditions from Korea, Laos, Singapore, and many other Asian countries have yet to appear in children's books.

Coming Soon

Golden Blooms: Celebrating Tet-Vietnamese Lunar New Year by Y T Tran (2018)

The most important holiday in Vietnam is celebrated with many unique traditions. This colorful children's picture book describes Tet, the Lunar New Year. --publisher


Unfortunately, none of the other celebrations that appear in Every Month Is A New Year -- such as Nowruz (Iran), Songkran (Thailand), the first day of Muharram (Jordan), or Enkutatash (Ethiopia) -- are to be featured in a picture book of their own. Rosh Hashanah appears in many children's titles, but not any we've seen that feature children of color.

But there's more good news. Two titles, one a reprint, one brand new, explore more traditions celebrated on January 1st. The first features an African-American family and their particular food traditions, the other features a family in Haiti as they celebrate Haitian independence (which also falls on January 1st). Both titles are coming to our collection soon:

Coming Soon

Shanté Keys and the New Year's Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport and Marion Eldridge (2007)

Shanté Keys loves New Year's Day! But while Grandma fixed chitlins, baked ham, greens, and cornbread, she forgot the black-eyed peas! Oh no--it'll be bad luck without them! So Shanté sets out to borrow some from the neighbors. -- publisher


Coming Soon

Freedom Soup by Tami Charles and Jacqueline Alcántara (2019)

Every year, Haitians all over the world ring in the new year by eating a special soup, a tradition dating back to the Haitian Revolution. This year, Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the soup — Freedom Soup — just like she was taught when she was a little girl. --publisher


Out of Print

Update: Searching through my own bookshelves in preparation for our family’s Korean-style Lunar New Year celebration (at our Korean-born daughter’s home, she’ll make traditional dduk-gook — rice cake soup, some Korean friends will join us, and the kids will bow to their elders and get gifts of money), I found and remembered this wonderful title, Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan, which portrays a mostly-Korean Hawaiian extended family celebrating the new year. It appears to be no longer in print, but you might find it in libraries or through used-book dealers. And attention, Little Brown Books: what a great candidate for a reprint! 

Many of the cover images on this site are from Google Books.
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