Just in time for holiday wish lists, Park’s Library Department shares recommendations for books they can’t stop thinking about. Whether you have a reluctant reader who needs inspiration and adventure or a reader who loves to laugh, you’ll find a just-right book within this hand-picked list of must-haves.
If you plan to purchase books, we encourage you to support local, independent booksellers, like Park family-owned Hummingbird Books or Black-owned Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury. You can also support independent bookstores nationwide by ordering online through Bookshop.org.
Lower Division recommendations from Carly Ellis
- Me Gusta by Angela Dominguez
This is a beautifully illustrated book that highlights a Latine family. It can be a wonderful beginning for those learning Spanish, but also packs a punch about the message of connection, security, love and family.
- The More you Give by Marcy Campbell & Francesca Sanna
This book will tug at your heart strings. Not all gifts given are bought in a store, gifts can be given in the form of an acorn, a hug or Sunday pancakes. It’s also about the love that can be passed through generations and family connections and learning how love can continue to grow.
- Anni Dreams of Biryani by Namita Moolani Mehra & Chaaya Prabhat
I love this book about an Indian family and the search for the secret ingredient in the child’s favorite dish of her family’s restaurant. Novice and beginner chefs will appreciate the recipe at the end of the book and for those who love to cook together with a loved one or for others- this is a book for you!
- This Story is Not About a Kitten by Randall de Sève & Carson Ellis
Honestly, it’s not about a kitten (but kinda). This story is about community/neighborhoods, kindness, offering help and asking for help. The illustrator does an excellent job of forcing the reader to look at the whole pages for clues and details.
- Patchwork by Matt De Peña & Corinna Luyken
This is written by one of my favorite authors with beautiful pictures and the message- oh swoon- the endless possibilities of children and how their stories are still being written. Peña touches on ideas that can become conversation starting points, or children and families can enjoy the simplicity of the illustrations and poetic rhyming words. It is inspiring!
Upper Division recommendations from Elena Pereira
Books that capture my heart bring to life stories of boldness, joy, and excellence! Not only do these books highlight talented authors and artists, but they center the stories of characters and people who are, or are learning to be, unapologetically themselves. While addressing important topics and themes, these books are a pleasure to read!
- Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas.
Reminiscent of Jerry Craft’s New Kid, a heartwarming story about a Black girl finding her place in a new school, navigating friendships, and persevering on her school’s swim team!
- Lotus Bloom & The Afro-Revolution by Sherri Winston
A violin prodigy with an opportunity to attend the new prestigious school in the neighborhood with a notable music program must find her voice.
- Holler of the Fireflies by David Barclay Moore
Javari is about to have that life-changing summer. This kid from Brooklyn finds himself at a STEM camp in Appalachia. Written as a series of vignettes, we get to experience through humor and an unflinching look at race, environmental issues, and friendship all that a new environment and new people can offer.
- Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults was adapted by Monique Gray Smith
The young reader’s adaptation of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s 2015 bestseller, Braiding Sweetgrass is a guide to living in relationship with the natural world and reframing our thinking about sustainability.
- Star Child by Ibi Zoboi
A tribute to her own inspiration, Zoboi crafts a stunning combination of poetry and images that paint a picture of Octavia Butler’s writing career, life, and influences.
Non-Fiction recommendations from Tory Lane
We live in a glorious age for children’s non-fiction books. When I think about giving books to children in my life, I look for books that will encourage multiple visits. This year I am particularly excited about titles that make our world both bigger and smaller. First up, consider these three big picture looks at our world:
- The World Book: Explore the Facts, Stats and Flags of Every Country by Joe Fullman & Rose Blake
Jam packed with introductory facts about all the countries of the world.
- Children of the World by Nicola Edwards
A young person’s introduction to the life of children around the world, exploring everything from family to food. The double page spread about how you say hello in a variety of languages created a frenzy of interest in a recent book talk to 4th grade.
- Bug Atlas: Amazing facts, fold-out maps and life-size surprises by Joe Fullman
This award-winning atlas from Lonely Planet explores the tiny inhabitants of each continent with large picture and interactive flaps featuring more intriguing creepy crawly information.
Once you’ve explored the big view, consider the teeny one. Perennial favorite Jason Chen has done it again with a deep dive into the miniscule with:
- The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey
A companion to Your Place in the Universe, this is an exquisitely illustrated guide to the wonders inside your body.
Maybe your taste runs to very, very large furry animals! If so David Macaulay is here to make you laugh while getting up to speed with your calculation skills in:
- Mammoth Math: Everything You Need to Know About Numbers.
Explore mathematical ideas and principles the way they were meant to be with hilarious and informative furry Mammoths!
Perhaps all this exhausts you and what would be really helpful is:
- Nature and Me: A guide to the joys and excitements of the outdoors by The School of Life.
This inspirational book can help your family move from the abstract “nature is good for you” to actually experiencing it being enjoyable for your family.
Last but not least, I want to make a plug for Don Brown’s newest book:
- We the People (Big Ideas that Changed the World)
It’s the story of American democracy told in, wait for it, a graphic novel format. This is a book that might sway you to the joys of visual storytelling, if you need swaying, and might spark an interest in a foundational component of our country if you need sparking.