Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! I am finally mostly over being sick after 3 weeks of RSV and bronchitis, minus a lingering cough. Fingers crossed my kid doesn’t come home from preschool today with yet another virus. Now that I’m feeling better, I’ve been working on bookish lists and post ideas for the year. If you have a list theme you’d like me to compile, feel free to contact me via the email in the last paragraph! This week I have recommendations for new picture book biographies and Lunar New Year reads.
I’ve also been prepping my reading logs and spreadsheets and picking which reading challenges I’m participating in this year. One challenge I always tackle is Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, which is in its ninth year, with a set of 24 tasks that invite readers to expand their worldview through books. Read one book per task, or do some multi-tasking by counting one book for multiple tasks. It’s all fine! The point of the challenge is to push yourself to expand your horizons. Thank you to Thriftbooks for sponsoring Read Harder 2023.
To find the tasks and subscribe to our newsletter for tips and recommendations, visit Read Harder 2023.
Now on to children’s book recommendations!
Lunar New Year Bookmarks by KyariKreations
These Chinese Zodiac bookmarks are super cute. The text reads “Good Fortune.” $5+
The Green Piano by Roberta Flack & Tonya Bolden, illustrated by Hayden Goodman (picture book)
This lyrical picture book written in a soft Southern cadence centers a young Roberta Flack and her first piano. From the time she was five, Flack dreamed of having her own piano, but her family was poor. At nine, her father finds a derelict piano in a junkyard. He brings it home, repairs it, tunes it and paints it green, and it becomes Flack’s very own green piano. I read this with my daughter last night and we both loved it, from the way the prose sings to the sweet illustrations. Afterward, we watched Roberta Flack perform several songs live on YouTube, and my daughter was mesmerized! I would much rather listen to Roberta Flack than Super Simple Songs, ha!
Love is Loud by Sandra Neil Wallace, illustrated by Bryan Collier (picture book)
This picture book biography also explores the life of an important Black woman, in this case Civil Rights leader Diane Nash. Using the second person point of view, Wallace chronicles Nash’s life from being raised by her grandmother in Tennessee to moving north and going to an inclusive high school. When Nash returns to Tennessee to attend Fisk University, she’s shocked by the segregation and joins the Civil Rights Movement. It’s a powerful and beautifully illustrated biography.
For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!
Lunar New Year begins January 22, so I thought I would share some of my favorite Lunar New Year children’s books.
A Sweet New Year for Ren by Michelle Sterling, illustrated by Dung Ho (picture book)
In this adorable picture book, Ren and her family prepare for their Lunar New Year celebration. But everyone keeps telling Ren she’s too little to help! When her older brother Charlie arrives, the two prepare pineapple cakes together. There’s even a recipe for pineapple cakes at the end of the book! This story is inspired by the author’s Chinese heritage.
Grumpy New Year by Katrina Moore, illustrated by Xindi Yan (picture book)
Also based on the author’s Chinese American heritage, Grumpy New Year tells the story of a young girl, Daisy, visiting her grandfather in China for the Lunar New Year. She counts down the days with her grandfather and everything they do together, though everything seems to go wrong. Finally, it’s the big day, but when she wakes up, she can’t find her grandfather! This is a fun intergenerational read, and both the author and the illustrator share their favorite Lunar New Year recipes in the back — Yeh-Yeh’s Fried Jiao Zi and Eight Treasure Rise.
Tomorrow is New Year’s Day by Aram Kim (picture book)
My next two selections focus on Seollal, the Korean Lunar New Year celebration. Mina is so excited to share her Lunar New Year customs with her class. She wears her beautiful hanbok to school, and teaches them some of the traditional games played on the holiday. Her little brother’s tears threaten to disrupt the day, but delicious tteokguk cheers everyone up. This is such a fun picture book and includes instructions for how to fold a paper bokjumeoni.
Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade by Lyla Lee, illustrated by Dung Ho (chapter book)
In the second book in the Mindy Kim early chapter book series, Mindy’s father takes her and her friend Sallie to the Lunar New Year parade in Orlando, Florida. Much to Mindy’s disappointment, there’s no Korean representation in the parade. Then Mindy and Sallie become separated from Mindy’s dad during the parade. How will they find him?! After reading this, my daughter and I made our own yutnori game (which the group plays at the end of the book).
My daughter, the mad scientist. Seriously, I told her I needed to go to the bathroom and then I’d set up a science experiment. I came out to this disaster, erm, experiment. My independent child can set up her own science experiments, thank you very much. If only she could clean them up, too.
If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next Tuesday!