Season’s Readings 2023 – Holiday Book Recommendations from the Library

in Winter 2023-24 by

In the spirit of the Scandinavian holiday tradition of Jolabokaflod (“Christmas Book Flood”), which revolves around giving and receiving new books, Park’s Library Department shares recommendations for books they hope everyone will read. These favorites include some of the very best books published in 2023.

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

Lower Division recommendations from CAROLINA ELLIS

  • Say My Name by Joanna Ho

From the author of Eyes That Kiss in the Corners and Eyes That Speak to the Stars comes Joanna Ho’s book about the power of names.  Ho highlights six children who celebrate their names, languages, and cultures. Correctly pronouncing a name is the first step to forming connections with others. As someone who has recently changed their name to mirror their first language and culture, I felt deeply connected to this picture book.

  • The New Brownies’ Book: A Love Letter to Black Families by Karida L Brown and Charly Palmer

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.In 1920, W.E.B. Du Bois published the first magazine created primarily for Black children, which was in publication for a little over one year. Over 100 years later, Brown and Charly have created an anthology that pays tribute to the monthly magazine. This book has contemporary artists paired with talented writers, some of whom are from the original magazine. The art and writings will have you overcome with appreciation of the joy and beauty of what is referred to as the ‘children of the sun.’

  • Something, Someday by Amanda Gorman

The message of community, perseverance, and hope rings loudly in this picture book.  The collaboration of inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, Caldecott Honor, and Coretta Scott King Honor winner Christian Robinson gives us beautifully crafted words and stunning and thoughtful pictures. You can’t help hugging this book when you’re finished reading it.

  • The Light Within You by Namita Mehra

This book is about traditions and practices during Diwali and Indian culture. Still, the story is also about the incredible bond between the main character and her nani, her grandmother whom she misses dearly.  This book includes a beautiful affirmation poem at the end that reminds us all to stay grateful, prideful, and hopeful: “And even on the darkest night, I will spark my inner light to bring goodness and gratitude into this world and honor the spirit of Diwali- light over dark, the light within me.”

Upper Division recommendations from MARÍ VALIENTE

  • Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Perry Fire-Keeper Birch is spending her summer in an internship she did not ask for with a mentor she does not want when she finds herself in the presence of “Warrior Girl,” an ancestor whose remains, along with twelve more who have yet to be repatriated from a local university. At the same time, women in Perry’s community are going missing with no call to action. Perry finds herself deep in the fight for women past and present—this is a fast-paced, mystery companion novel to Bouley’s first book that will leave you speechless.

  • Mexikid by Pedro Martín

Stories of the Mexican Revolution come to life in a joyful intergenerational adventure. Pedro Martín looks up to his abuelo whose tales of war and adventure he has grown up on. He and his band of siblings pile into his family’s RV for a family road trip to Mexico to bring their abuelo back with them. Along the way, he “finds his grito!” while reconnecting with his abuelo and, whether he likes it or not, his siblings! 

  • Nigeria Jones by Ibi Zoboi

Nigeria Jones is a “Warrior Princess” in the eyes of her father, a man whom in her Black separatist community looks to lead to connect to their ancestors and find liberation. Nigeria’s mother disappears, leaving her behind with an opportunity to attend a private Quaker school outside of the community, forcing Nigeria to explore her identity and ideas of freedom as a Black woman. 

  • A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat

Dan brings his awkward teen years back to life in a graphic novel memoir! After being bullied in middle school, Dan embarks on a life-changing school trip to Europe, where he opens up to new friendships and new adventures.

Non-Fiction recommendations from CHRISTIAN PORTER

  • Glitter Everywhere by Chris Barton

In this season of light and festivity, just add glitter! Barton’s well-researched and playfully presented information book is an exemplary S.T.E.A.M. text, balancing the science and art of all things glittery.

  • Indigenous Ingenuity by Deirdre Havrelock (Saddle Lake Cree Nation) & Edward Kay

Be prepared to get lost (in the best way!) in this engaging account of scientific discoveries and technological inventions from Indigenous North Americans. Endlessly informative, you will not look at our world the same way again.

  • Moon’s Ramadan by Natasha Khan Kazi

Follow the moon as it travels around the globe to observe families honoring Ramadan. The clever presentation and charming illustrations make this a modern holiday classic.

  • Chinese Menu by Grace Lin 

My #1 choice for the book I would like to give to everyone I know! Lin draws upon history and folklore to tell the tales of favorite American Chinese dishes, and courses like a restaurant menu organize the book to present a visual and storytelling feast.

For the Grown-ups!

Model the joy of reading for your kids by picking up a good fiction or nonfiction book. Each library team member has chosen a favorite new book to help get you started!

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride

Immigrant Jews and African Americans find common ground and shared humanity in McBride’s brilliantly crafted historical novel, set in Depression-era America. With its heartfelt messages of love and inclusivity, I believe this is the story we ALL need to read right now. – Christian Porter

Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs

Estranged sisters, Esther and Joanna reunite to protect the collection of magical books left behind after their father’s sudden death. Unseen foes, betrayal, loyalty, power, intrigue – this book will sweep you away with its magic and surprises while keeping you grounded in grief and love.  – Erin Carr

A Man of Two Faces by Viet Thahn Nguyen

Viet Thahn Nguyen, this year’s Norton lecturer at Harvard, Pulitzer-winning novelist, and Vietnamese refugee, brings a profound lens that blends his memoir with his lectures and the history we are living. Written poetically in a form he has not published before, he wrestles with personal stories like his relationship with his mother and our collective histories to interrogate concepts in Asian American studies to imagine expansive solidarity, to radically imagine a better future for what could be. – Marí Valiente

How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair 

Safiya Sinclair poetically recounts how her father’s over-controlling Rastifiarian life in Jamaica set the course for her own life.  This book opened my eyes to the Rastifiarian code of conduct, which, under harsh control for Safiya and her family, was too much to bear.  Safiya weaves these unbearable stories of her childhood that were meant to silence her and produce a loud account of a beautiful story about resilience and triumph. – Carolina Ellis


  • Park School Library Department

    Park's outstanding library, which contains 30,000 volumes and countless digital materials, is truly the heart of the School. Four librarians provide a welcoming resource center and gathering place for the whole Park community.

Park's outstanding library, which contains 30,000 volumes and countless digital materials, is truly the heart of the School. Four librarians provide a welcoming resource center and gathering place for the whole Park community.