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Aside from Chinese New Year, the next most important holiday for Chinese people may be the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.
The Mid-Autumn Moon festival, sometimes referred to as just the Moon Festival, takes place on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. In 2016, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival will take place on Thursday, September 15. (In 2017, it will be on October 4.)
Below I am sharing a description and review of 6 books about the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival for kids. Five of the books discuss moon festival traditions from China, while the sixth one discusses the Korean Chu-Suk festival.
Celebrating Chinese Festivals: A Collection of Holiday Tales, Poems and Activities by Sanmu Tang
This book tells the stories and traditions behind a number of Chinese holidays, not just the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. What this book does well, however, is to give a reason for why each holiday is celebrated. It also shares a recipe for each holiday (which is my son’s favorite part!). According to the book, we celebrate the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival due to the heroic act of Chang’e. Her husband, Houyi, had saved the earth from 10 scorching suns and in reward had been given a pill that would make him immortal. One day while Houyi was out, a boy named Pang Meng snuck into Houyi’s house and demanded the immortal pill from Chang’e. Rather than give the pill to Pang Meng, Chang’e took the pill herself. In an instant, she became lighter than air and floated up into the sky. The legend says that as she got close to the moon, she decided to stop and live there. When Houyi came home, he searched for his wife. He eventually found her moving on the moon. Today, families celebrate the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival by enjoying a picnic outside where they can gaze at the moon. On the night of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, it is customary to eat moon cakes. Ages 4-9.
Lin Yi’s Lantern by Brenda Williams
This is the beautifully illustrated tale of Lin Yi and his wish to buy a red rabbit lantern for the moon festival. His mother sends him to the market to buy moon cakes, star fruit, rice, yams, and peanuts for his uncle Hui. She tells him if he bargains hard and has enough money after buying all the things they need, he can buy himself a red rabbit lantern too. So Lin Yi goes off to the market and bargains to get a good price on the things he needs. Finally, he only needs to buy peanuts for his uncle Hui, but he realizes he will not have enough money left over to buy the red rabbit lantern he wants so much. But he sighs and buys the peanuts, then goes home disappointed. Lin Yi puts on a good face though, and happily gives the peanuts to his uncle. But then his uncle has a surprise for Lin Yi – a red rabbit lantern! Lin Yi is thrilled, and his family enjoys a wonderful moon festival together. For ages 5-9.
Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival by Grace Lin
This simple book lets us peer in on a family as they celebrate the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. This family of two parents and three daughters sets up a picnic dinner outside under the full moon. They eat pomelo fruit, they parade with their glowing lanterns, they drink round cups of tea, and they eat sweet mooncakes. Then, the family admires the moon, thanks it for bringing them together, and sends it their wishes. This lovely book for ages 3-6 can provide a road map for others who wish to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival following the holiday traditions.
Mooncakes by Loretta Seto
This beautiful book follows a young girl on the night of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. On this night, she is allowed to stay up late. Her family eats mooncakes and hangs paper lanterns to light up the sky. While snuggling together to view the moon, her parents tell her the story of Chang-E, the woman who lives in the moon. While enjoying mooncakes, she hears the tale of Wu-Gang, a woodcutter who lives on the moon. And while drinking tea, her parents share the tale of the Jade Rabbit. Finally, it is time for bed and the girl drifts off to sleep with the moon watching over her. Ages 4-8.
Moon Festival by Ching Yeung Russell
This book helps the reader feel the narrator’s anticipation as the Moon Festival approaches. The whole downtown smells of moon cakes filled with bean paste, salty duck egg yolks, and nuts. The biggest bakery displays a huge painting of Chang O and her rabbit, who are thought to reside on the moon. Stores also hang paper lanterns, and the kids make their own as well. Finally, the day of the Moon Festival arrives. Stores close early, and family members hurry home for a special feast. The full moon symbolizes reunion, and after the reunion meal families set up worship tables in front of their homes. Families come outside and look at the moon, searching for Chang O and her rabbit. People ask Chang O to bless their loved ones and reunite them with family who are far away. The kids then start a lantern parade, singing in the streets as they hold their lit lanterns high. Ages 5-9.
Sori’s Harvest Moon Day: A Story of Korea by Uk-Bae Lee
Korea celebrates its own version of the Harvest Moon festival called Chu-Suk. This book, originally written in Korean and now translated into English (but still featuring Korean writing in the images), tells the story of this important holiday. Sori is a young girl who is traveling with her family to visit her grandmother for Chu-Suk. On the festival day, the family honors their ancestors with dishes made of the newly harvested rice and fruit. Sori and her family join the Pung-Mul, or folk festival, parade. The whole village dances in circles as round as the moon. By following Sori and her family, children will learn a few details about how the Harvest Moon festival is celebrated in Korea. The final pages of the book include more detailed information about Korea and the Harvest Moon festival for those who are interested. Ages 4-8.
More Chinese cultural resources
More Chinese cultural posts from Gift of Curiosity:
- Chinese New Year Printables Pack
- Books about Chinese New Year
- Chinese New Year drum craft
- Chinese New Year Do-a-Dot Printables
- Chinese New Year lantern
- Chinese New Year coloring pages
For more kid-friendly Chinese New Year activities, see my Chinese New Year Activities for Kids page and my Chinese New Year Pinterest board.
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