Here at Lee & Low, we are incredibly excited about the release of Every Month is a New Year, an amazing picture book from beloved author, Marilyn Singer, and illustrator, Susan L. Roth. This book has a wealth of curricular opportunities, and offers chances for students, teachers, librarians, and families alike to learn all about new year celebrations around the world and share their own cultural and familial celebrations. All of the celebrations have deep-rooted traditions and treasured customs. The collection of sixteen lively poems introduce readers to some of the most fascinating festivities, some well-known and less familiar (depending on the reader!)
In many places around the globe, the new year starts on January 1. But not everywhere! Chinese New Year is celebrated in January or February. Iranians observe Nowruz in March. For Thai people, Songkran occurs in April. Ethiopians greet the new year at Enkutatash in September. All these diverse cultural, regional, and religious observances, and many others, have deep-rooted traditions and treasured customs.
The Every Month is a New Year Teacher’s Guide offers resources and tips on how to guide discussions about all of the different new year celebrations and corresponding activities to use in the classroom. This title and teacher’s guide is a perfect reference to begin a unit on world history, cultural traditions and celebrations, and appreciating unique and complex identities. Our teacher’s guide also features summary and background information, prereading and discussion questions, ideas for reader’s response and writing activities, strategies for ELL/ESL, and interdisciplinary activities and connections. Below we’ve shared a few activities and resources from the Every Month is a New Year Teacher’s Guide.
Consider having Every Month Is a New Year serve as an anchor text for the entire school year and read the poems at the beginning of their respective months. Students may research more about each month’s specific culture or religion and New Year’s celebration during the month as part of an ongoing project. Students may also take the opportunity to discuss other holidays or celebrations that occur during that month and keep track of them on a larger classroom calendar.
Have students individually or in groups select a poem and conduct a research study about the New Year’s celebration featured. Students may refer to the “About the Celebrations” and “Authors’ Sources” sections in the back of the book to begin their projects. Whether working individually or in groups, students may choose a different medium to present their work: through a slide presentation, a physical poster, a movie, and more. In their presentations, students should share additional information they learned about the holiday chosen and provide more details about specific traditions, ceremonies, and customs that are typically observed during the New Year’s celebration.
Have students investigate secular versus religious New Year’s celebrations. What religion is associated with each religious New Year’s celebration? Why is the celebration important in that religion? Which celebrations are not religious? How/why are the festivities important to that region and culture?
Encourage students to investigate different types of calendars and how they were scientifically created. Divide students into different calendar groups. Ask each group to identify: the characteristics of the calendar; the countries, cultures, and/or religions that follow the calendar; and why the calendar might be preferable to others. Students can present their findings with photographs, videos, and other media, whatever presentation format suits their information best.
Encourage students to interview family members about how they celebrate the new year. What are students’ favorite New Year’s traditions with their friends and family? Consider having students, if comfortable, share their findings with a partner, small group, or the whole class.
We want to hear about how you plan on using Every Month is a New Year in your classroom! Comment below or email our literacy specialist Katie Potter at firstname.lastname@example.org to share any lessons or activities that you’ve done with your students!
Find the complete Teacher’s Guide for Every Month is a New Year here.
Purchase a copy of Every Month is a New Year here.