Category Archives: libary

It’s Chinese New Year!

By Pamela Lafayette
Family Reading Partnership
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Gong Xi Fa Cai! Gung Hay Fat Choy! These are greetings expressed on Chinese New Year that bestow wishes to friends and family for a year of prosperity, good fortune, and wellbeing. Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China and is celebrated in thousands of communities around the globe, from Nanfeng to New York City. The Chinese lunar calendar follows a twelve-year cycle, each year represented by an animal. This year, on February 8, we welcome the Year of the Monkey!

In ancient China, this festival offered hope and renewal for a new year after a hard winter. Today, celebrations are still rooted in tradition with Lion Dances, family customs of cleaning and decorating homes, buying new clothes, offering tokens for good fortune like Hong Bao (red envelopes), and most importantly, families gathering together. Parades with dragons dancing down the streets, firecrackers popping and whizzing from storefronts, colorful decorations strung from doorways, and lanterns zig-zagging from shop to shop, are some of the festivities that welcome in the new year with a BANG!

Children love to learn about cultures from around the world, hear and repeat new words and sounds, and travel within a story to explore traditions and celebrations. Luckily, there are dozens of wonderful children’s books about Chinese New Year, from board books to cookbooks, which do all these things and more.

In addition to the fanciful tales and festivities that stimulate the imagination and broaden a child’s view of the world, reading books about cultures and celebrations provide opportunities for families to talk about diversity and community, and all the possibilities awaiting them in a new year.

In the book, The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac discover how the Zodiac came to be, and how the cleverness and determination of a small rat impressed the Jade Emperor. In the book Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year, spend the morning with a young boy in Chinatown who is finally big enough to be part of a lion dance. In Dumpling Soup, meet a young girl and her large Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian, and Haole family as they come together in Hawaii to celebrate and prepare a traditional midnight meal. Words and phrases in different languages throughout the book give depth and richness to the story, like adding spice and seasoning to the dumpling filling.

What is a dumpling? Preparing and sharing special foods are a large part of Chinese New Year, and many children’s books tempt our taste buds with descriptions and photographs of scrumptious dishes, and offer recipes for families to try.

By reading together about how families celebrate Chinese New Year, your family can join the excitement! Check out these books, and just listen for the POP, SIZZLE, and CRASH – because here comes Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year Book List:
The Dancing Dragon by Marcia Vaughan and Stanley W. Foon
Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Ratigan, illustrated by Lillian Hsu-Flanders
Hiss! Boom! Pop! Celebrating Chinese New Year by Tricia Morrissey, illustrated by Kong Lee
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Anne Wilson
Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s New Year by Kate Water, photographs by Martha Cooper
A World of Holidays: Chinese New Year by Catherine Chambers
Dragon Dance, a Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap book by Joan Holub, illustrated Benrui Huang
My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz
Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats by Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz and the Children’s Museum, illustrated by Meilo So

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Filed under activities, children's books, Chinese New Year, family, family reading, holidays, libary, traditions

Babies Belong at the Library!

Kicking off National Library Week, the six public libraries in Tompkins County and Family Reading Partnership have launched a new initiative called “Babies Belong at the Library!” New library cards especially for babies, more board books to check out, and special read-aloud and play times for babies offered at every library are all part of encouraging families to visit their nearest library early and often to make it a familiar and comfortable place for their growing family.

This week families with babies born at Cayuga Medical Center received the first copies of “Baby’s First Library Card” in a red book bag with a board book of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, and a list of “50 Board Books for Baby” that they can find at any of the local public libraries. “Baby’s First Library Card” is also available at all Tompkins County public libraries and through many community organizations that work with families. In special recognition of welcoming babies, all six libraries have adopted a policy that there will be no fines on board books for babies.

Come, stay, and play with your baby and books at the library! Babies learn about books and stories through listening, looking, handling, and tasting! The most important thing is spending time with your baby and talking or reading, giving your baby the words that he or she will start learning and some day say back to you.

Babies like to hear stories with rhythm, rhyme, and motion. Very young babies like to look at faces of people, and as they get older they enjoy stories about the world they see around them. Here are just fifteen of many books that come in a sturdy board book format that can stand up to a baby’s curiosity.

“Whose Toes are Those?” by Jabari Asim

“Itsy, Bitsy Spider” by Annie Kubler

“Peek-a-Who?” by Nina Laden

“Flip, Flap, Fly” by Phyllis Root

“From Head to Toe” by Eric Carle

“Clap Your Hands” by Lorinda Bryan Cauley

“All Fall Down” by Helen Oxenbury

“Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb” by Al Perkins

“Baby Dance” by Ann Taylor

“Snug” by Carole Thompson

“Counting Kisses” by Karen Katz

“Hugs & Kisses” by Roberta Grobel Intrater

“Carry Me” by Star Bright Books

“Where is the Green Sheep?” by Mem Fox

“I Went Walking” by Sue Williams

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Filed under family reading, libary, National Library Week, reading to babies