Year of the Tiger Book Recommendations

By: Shanleigh Klassen

Welcome to the Year of the Tiger!

To many people all over the world, this is a celebration of family, food, and fortune for the coming year. Referred to as Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, this is a festive occasion that runs from February 1st to 15th this year. To those who celebrate, we wish you great health and longevity!

To welcome this new year, we’ve put together a list of middle grade books that are sure to be great additions to your planned festivities!

The Twelve by Cindy Lin
Cover image of The Twelve by Cindy Lin. Image shows four kids in various leaping action poses, wearing dark blue clothes. Behind each child are spectral animals. Looming in background among the mountains, is a large dragon eye.

The first in a two-book series and an OwlCrate Jr favorite! Usagi, born in the year of the wood rabbit, has been gifted with extraordinary zodiac gifts which allow her to hear a squirrel’s heartbeat from a mile away and soar over treetops in one giant leap. But with the Dragonlord determined to capture and contain anyone with zodiac powers, she must keep her abilities and those of her sister, Uma, a secret. That is until Uma is captured by the Dragonguard. To save her sister, it is up to Usagi and the fabled Heirs of the Twelve to hone their skills and take on the elusive, dangerous Dragonlord himself. Check out the sequel, Treasures of the Twelve, for the conclusion to this incredible story!

The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao
Cover image for The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao. Image shows a young Chinese girl wielding a staff and surrounded by blue smoke. Behind her is a massive red Chinese dragon.

The first in a Chinese mythology-inspired fantasy series full of humor, heart, and magic, The Dragon Warrior follows Faryn Liu who dreams of becoming a warrior of the Jade Society. But ever since the disappearance of her father years ago, Faryn and her brother Alex have been forced to train in secret. All is not lost, however, when Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon one day and actually helps defeat it! Faryn must be the legendary Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior who’s meant to command an army of dragons. That is if she can prove herself and find the island of the immortals before Lunar New Year. With the way this one ends, be sure you also pick up the sequel, The Fallen Hero!

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
Book cover for When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller. Cover shows a tiger leaping out of an open glass jar from the bottom right. On the bottom left is the gold Newbury Medal.

Lily is happy her family is moving in with her grandparents because that means she’ll be able to spend more time with her Halmoni, whose life seems to be full of magic. What she doesn’t expect is her sister’s unhappiness with the move, and that Halmoni is very sick. So when a tiger arrives — straight out of her grandmother’s Korean folktales — willing to make a deal in exchange for Halmoni’s health, Lily is tempted to accept. But tigers are never what they seem, and Lily must do what she can to find her voice and her courage. Winner of both the 2021 Newbery Medal and the 2021 Asian Pacific American Literature Award!

The Tiger's Apprentice by Laurence Yep
Book cover for The Tiger's Apprentice by Laurence Yep. Image shows a young Chinese boy standing on a mountain top as a massive tiger surrounds him protectively. A black dragon winds around the two figures, while a golden monkey perches upon the dragon above the tiger.

Tom Lee’s life changes forever the day he meets Mr. Hu, a talking tiger, and discovers that he has magical powers. Despite his doubts and fears, Tom joins Mr. Hu’s ragtag band of creatures in their fight to keep an ancient talisman out of the hands of the worst possible enemy. The first in a fantasy series that blends Chinese mythology with modern-day San Francisco, this is a magical story all about friendship, the battle between good and evil, living up to great responsibilities. Read the book before the animated feature, set to come out next year!

The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
Book cover of The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin. Image shows a young Taiwanese-American girl smiling into the camera, with a thought bubble behind her. In the thought bubble are drawn images of various people, food, animals, and situations that take place in the novel.

The first in a contemporary middle grade series and a heartwarming classic-in-the-making. Pacy is a Taiwanese-American girl living in an area where her family stands out. When Pacy’s mother tells her that the Year of the Dog is a good year for friends, family, and “finding herself,” she’s excited to see what the year has in store for her. As it turns out, Pacy’s year is full of ups-and-downs as she explores her cultural and racial identity as a girl caught between worlds. Be sure to follow Pacy’s journey in The Year of the Rat and Dumpling Days!

Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade by Lyla Lee
Book cover for Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade by Lyla Lee. Image shows a young Korean girl in a pink hanbok holding a bowl of rice cake soup. Behind the girl are various kites flying in the sky, each depicting the Korean flag.

This is one for our younger readers. Mindy is excited for the upcoming Lunar New Year, even though it will be the first one without her mom. Even so, Mindy decides to make traditional Korean New Year food, such as her favorite, rice cake soup. But things don’t go exactly to plan and Mindy can’t help but feel that this year’s celebration just doesn’t feel the same as it did before. With the help of her friends and family, Mindy is determined to still enjoy her family’s traditions, and perhaps make some new ones along the way. Check out the other books in the Mindy Kim series, great for readers aged 6 - 9!

Bonus Recommendations:

Tell us your favorite books to ring in the Year of the Tiger below!

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