5 Favorite Chinese Folktales for Kids

Although the Lunar New Year celebration has nearly come to a close for 2015, it's never to late to discover and enjoy picture book folklore for children from other cultures. As part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs celebration of Chinese New Year, let's take a look at five Chinese folktales children will love reading at any time of year. And at the end of the post, do not miss out on a chance to enter the Multicultural Kid Blogs Chinese New Year giveaway, which includes books and music!

Noodle Magic by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and Meilo So

How about a brand new picture book (released in November 2014) that incorporates elements of Chinese folklore into a modern story? Award-winning author Thong and talented illustrator So come together with a sweet tale of a child learning the tradition of noodle making from her beloved grandfather. Making beautiful noodles for the emperor isn't easy, but with a little magic and a dose of self-confidence, success is attained!

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young

Young's Chinese Red Riding Hood has become a classic children's picture book since it's publication in 1988. It provides a perfect way to engage in comparing classic tales from varying cultures, but also stands on its own as a powerful story. Young's gorgeous pastel illustrations earned him a Caldecott Medal for the best illustrations in an American-published children's book in a particular year. 

Rabbit's Gift by George Shannon and Laura Dronzek

Rabbit's Gift, taken from an ancient Chinese folktale, is a pay-it-forward story for the preschool and very early elementary set. Rabbit sets out to collect food for winter, only to discover one more turnip than he needs. He leaves it at Donkey's door, but it turns out that Donkey has more than enough, as well. The sharing chain goes on until the turnip ends up with its original owner. A lovely story about winter, sharing, and generosity, with some Chinese calligraphy that pays homage to the tale's culture of origin.

Fa Mulan: The Story of a Woman Warrior by Robert San Souci and Jean and Mou-Sien Tseng 

I simply couldn't leave this amazing picture book out, even though it is unfortunately out of print. (Used copies are still available, and it's on many library shelves.) If you'd like to introduce a child to the non-Disney legend of Mulan, this is the place to come. San Souci was a master folklorist, and he did his research before presenting this version. Kids will learn about the reasons that Fa Mulan's gender made her an incredibly powerful warrior and military leader. Here is a female character to emulate!

Two of Everything by Lily Toy Hong

Many years ago I was lucky enough to participate in a library puppet show production based on this funny folktale. Kids love the comical adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Haktak, who come upon a magic pot that multiplies anything put inside of it, only to find that this means double trouble. A hilarious tale for reading aloud!

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Chinese New Year Giveaway

Giveaway begins Jan. 21 and goes through midnight ET on March 5, 2015. Enter below for a chance to win! Remember you can make a comment on the blog post of a different co-host each day for an additional entry.

First Prize Package

All About China

From Tuttle Publishing, All About China: Take the whole family on a whirlwind tour of Chinese history and culture with this delightfully illustrated book that is packed with stories, activities and games. Travel from the stone age through the dynasties to the present day with songs and crafts for kids that will teach them about Chinese language and the Chinese way of life.

Long-Long's New Year

Also from Tuttle Publishing, Long-Long’s New Year, a beautifully illustrated picture book about a little Chinese boy named Long-Long, who accompanies his grandfather into the city to sell cabbages in order to buy food and decorations for the New Year. Selling cabbages is harder than Long-Long expects, and he encounters many adventures before he finds a way to help his grandfather, and earn New Year’s treats for his mother and little cousin.

A Little Mandarin

From A Little Mandarin, a CD featuring a collection of Chinese children’s classics – songs loved by families in China for generations – given new life with a contemporary sound and voice. The 15 tracks fuse rock, pop, dance, ska, and hip hop influences with playful lyrics to make it a unique and fun learning companion for all ages. Featured on Putumayo Kids Presents World Sing-Along.

Second Prize Package

US shipping only

Celebrating the Chinese New Year

From Tuttle Publishing, Celebrating the Chinese New Year, in which Little Mei’s grandfather tells her the stories of Nian and the monster Xi for Chinese New Year.

The Sheep Beauty

Also from Tuttle Publishing, The Sheep Beauty, which brings to life the kindness and generosity of those born under the sign of the sheep in the Chinese zodiac.

Chinese Zodiac Animals

Also from Tuttle Publishing, Chinese Zodiac Animals, a fun and informative way to learn about the ancient Chinese Zodiac, explaining the traits of each animal sign and what luck the future might hold for the person born under that sign.

Monkey Drum

From Tiny Tapping Toes, a monkey drum, plus a free pdf of a craft version. World Music children’s performer DARIA has spent the last two decades performing in the USA and around the world, creating music to inspire all the world’s children and allowing children to become a part of the celebration and the fun of exploring world cultures.

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