Animals of the Chinese Zodiac + Children's Books

Have you ever looked at a menu from a Chinese restaurant and read about the Chinese zodiac? The Chinese zodiac is also known as Sheng Xiao and is based on a 12-year cycle. Each year in this cycle is named for an animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Each animal in the zodiac is associated with specific personality traits. For example, if you were born in 1999 under the sign of the rabbit, you may be shy, peaceful, and affectionate... whereas those born under the tiger may be sensitive yet aggressive. Pretty interesting, yes?

12 animal signs: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig

Keep reading to learn more about the animals of the Chinese zodiac. In between each animal description, you will find children's books about the Chinese New Year. Clicking the images will take you to Amazon where you can learn more about each book.

Disclosure: Affiliate links to Amazon are included in this post.

Not long before writing this post, I went to my favorite Chinese restaurant in town. It's one of my all-time favorites and I go there often. Just for fun, I looked at the placemat on my table and read up on each of the zodiac animals. Here is what my placemat had to say about each animal of the zodiac:

Menu from a Chinese restaurant

Rat (1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020)

Ambitious and honest, but prone to spend freely. Quick to anger. Compatible with dragons and monkeys. Avoid horses.

The Great Race: Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Ling and Eric Lee

Ox / Cow (1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021)

Bright, inspiring, and easygoing. You make an outstanding parent. You should marry a snake or a rooster, but not a sheep.

Book cover, How to Catch a Dragon by Adam Wallace
How to Catch a Dragon by Adam Wallace

Tiger (1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022)

A fighting spirit, aggressive and courageous. A sensitive thinker who is true blue with friends. Marry a horse or dog, but beware of the monkey.

Book cover, Dragon Dance by Joan Holub
Dragon Dance by Joan Holub

Rabbit (1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2021)

Luckiest of all signs. Talented and affectionate, yet shy. You seek peace. Marry a sheep or pig, but not the rooster.

Dragon (1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024)

Excitable with a complex life. Stubborn on the outside, but softhearted inside. A born leader. Compatible with the monkey or the rat. Beware of the dog.

Bringing In the New Year by Grace Lin

Snake (1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025)

Wise and intense, but vain. Passionate and determined. A winner with the monkey. The rooster and the ox are your closest signs. Pig is your enemy.

My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz

Horse (1954, 1996, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026)

Cheerful and popular, but impatient. Handy with money and always a winner. Compatible with the tiger and the dog, but never the rat.

12 Lucky Animals by Vickie Lee
12 Lucky Animals by Vickie Lee

Goat / Ram / Sheep (1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027)

Elegant and creative. Best in arts. Passionate, but timid. Most compatible with rabbits and pigs. Avoid the ox.

Ruby's Chinese New Year by Vickie Lee
Ruby's Chinese New Year by Vickie Lee

Monkey (1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028)

Very intelligent and able to influence people. Good politician. Thirsty for knowledge. Talented and inventive, but easily discouraged. Seek a dragon or a rat, but not a tiger.

Baby's First Chinese New Year by DK Children

Rooster(1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029)

A pioneer spirit devoted to work and the quest of knowledge. Sometimes selfish and eccentric. Trouble with rabbits, but fine with snakes and the ox.

The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine
The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine 

Dog (1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030)

Honest and loyal. Leader of men. Generous, but stubborn. Earmarked for success. Horses and tigers are friendly, but watch out for dragons.

Book cover of Peppa's Chinese New Year, adapted by Mandy Archer and Cala Spinner
Peppa's Chinese New Year, adapted by Mandy Archer and Cala Spinner

Boar / Pig (1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031)

Shy, but short-tempered. Affectionate to loved ones. You are impulsive and honest. Most compatible with sheep and rabbits. Steer clear of other pigs.

Chinese New Year Wishes by Jillian Lin
Chinese New Year Wishes by Jillian Lin

I was born in the year of the pig. The description for that year fits me reasonably well. Coincidence? What about you? What year were you born? Would you say the description is accurate, somewhat accurate, or not at all? 

Did you enjoy reading about the animals of the Chinese Zodiac? Did you see a children's book or two that caught your eye? If so, check out these other blog posts about related children's books and activities:

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