Jill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
We’re in the process of updating our lists of recommended books for special holidays! Our diverse books cover a wide range of holidays, celebrations, and important moments in history. Whether you are looking to rejuvenate your holiday read alouds in the classroom or purchase a gift to remember a special moment, you’ll find the perfect title on our list. Here’s what we’re celebrating – and reading – in January:
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday
The Bus Ride
Today is Chinese New Year! Traditionally, the night before Chinese New Year, Chinese families will gather around and eat dinner together, much like this plate from the LEE & LOW title, Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic:
Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic author and illustrator Ginnie and Beth Lo were kind enough to share one of their favorite soybean recipes with us: Mapo Tofu! While not a traditional Chinese New Year dish, the Lo sisters say that “mapo tofu is a Lo family favorite that we eat on the holidays, Christmas, and Chinese New Year.”
On Thanksgiving, everyone looks forward to the turkey. Valentine’s Day is the time for chocolate. During Chinese New Year, one of the most popular dish is one called jai, or Buddha’s Delight.
Jai is a vegetarian dish and is eaten on the first day of Chinese New Year to bring good luck. According to Buddhist tradition, no animal or fish should be killed on the first day of the lunar new year, thus, a dish with lots of vegetables is considered purifying.
While most of the ingredients are probably not available at your local grocery store, they can be found at Asian grocery stores in many parts of the country.
This Sunday is Chinese New Year and that means firecrackers, food, and family! You can greet someone by saying Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) or Gung hay fat choy (Cantonese), which means “wishing you prosperity in the coming year.”
Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar (the moon’s orbit around the Earth), therefore the actual day varies year to year. Many families will prepare for the new year by cleaning the house, shopping for new clothes, buying food to prepare new year meals, and stocking up on red envelopes to put lucky money in. Once the new year arrives, celebratory events continue for the next 15 days, including parades, feasting, red lanterns, and red paper cutouts and calligraphy.