Oakland Public Library's 2018 Gift Guide

Giving a gift to a book lover anytime soon? Our fourth annual Gift Guide features some of our favorite recent books for kids, teens and adults.

It's that time of year again!  You are looking for ideas for gifts, and we are full of ideas about books!  This is our FOURTH annual Gift Guide and we are excited to share it with you.

Our list this year has some amazing gems for children, teens, and adults and we hope to help you fufill all your gift giving duties with it this winter.  Please think about supporting your local bookstores and all the wonderful readers in your lives by giving them these recent books that are some of our personal favorites.  

Children’s Books for ages 0-5

My Heart Fills with Happiness / Ni Sâkaskineh Mîyawâten Niteh Ohcih
by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett
A contemporary Indigenous family shares the simple things that make them happiest in life. Available as a board book and an English/Cree bilingual paperback.

Julián Is a Mermaid
by Jessica Love
After Julián sees a person dressed as a mermaid for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, he longs in secret to become a mermaid too—until an unlikely ally helps him bring his dream to life. Beautiful illustrations, and a powerful story of self-acceptance and family love.

The Day You Begin / El Día en que Descubres Quién Eres
by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López
Diverse children in a classroom learn that they find friendships when they share themselves. English and Spanish editions available.

Bowwow Powwow
by Brenda J. Child
Written in both English and Ojibwe, this imaginative story depicts a young girl who falls asleep after a family powwow and dreams of a similar event attended by dogs.

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday
by Laura Gehl
Ana receives a chicken from Abuela Lola on her birthday. She tries to be grateful and enjoy her new pet, but the chicken has plans of her own. Hilarious!

I Really Want to See You Grandma
by Taro Gomi
A child who wants to visit her grandmother unknowingly sets off a chain of missed opportunities. A sweet story of grandparent-grandchild mutual adoration.

Children’s Books for Ages 5-8

The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America / La matadragones: Cuentos de Latinoamérica
by Jaime Hernandez
“Love and Rockets” co-creator Jaime Hernandez adds his contribution to the TOON Books series, telling three popular folktales from Latin America in comics. Available in English and Spanish.

by Tedd Arnold, Martha Hamilton, and Mitch Weiss
In the grand tradition of Amelia Bedelia and The Stupids, Mac and Mac Noodlehead are full of silly ideas. Three books that are part chapter book, part graphic novel, are available in this sidesplitting series.

I Lost My Tooth!
by Mo Willems
If you miss Elephant and Piggie, you’ll want to jump on Mo Willems’ new series, Unlimited Squirrels! How will the other squirrels help Zoom when he loses a baby tooth?

Dreamers / Soñadores
by Yuyi Morales
A Bay Area must-have. Yuyi Morales, one of today’s most celebrated children’s illustrators, tells her story of moving from Mexico to San Francisco at age twenty, and learning English from reading children’s books to her son at their local library.

by Andres Miedoso, illustrated by Victor Rivas
What do you do when your best friend is a ghost hunter, and you’re afraid of everything? Short chapters, black-and-white illustrations, and plenty of icky spooky happenings make this a great series for hard-to-please readers.

Children’s Books for Ages 8-13

Be Prepared
by Vera Brosgol
Fans of Raina Telgemeier will love this memoir from Brosgol, which tells the story of her disastrous time at Russian summer camp. Humiliation, boredom, and boys--how will Vera survive?

The Lotterys series
by Emma Donoghue, illustrated by Caroline Hadilaksono
Meet this loving Toronto family with four co-parents, seven children, and a curmudgeonly grandfather named Grumps. When Grumps comes to live with them, how will the Lotterys handle his narrow views and prejudiced words?

You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!
by Alex Gino
When Jilly’s new baby sister is born deaf, she sets out to learn about Deaf culture, which leads her to new considerations of race and prejudice. Local author Gino explores tough topics through a character and story that will be loved by middle-grade readers.

Front Desk
by Kelly Yang
10-year-old Mia Tang runs the front desk at the hotel her parents manage. What will happen when Mia’s parents start letting immigrants stay at the hotel for free, without the owner finding out?

Dactyl Hill Squad
by Daniel José Older
There’s never been a book quite like this one. Imagine the Civil War, but with armies of dinosaurs. In New York City, a group of Black and Brown orphans flee from riots and threats of being sold into slavery, with dinosaurs on their side.

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices
edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson
An excellent collection for anyone who longs for inspiration in a difficult time. Fifty children’s authors and illustrators share their stories, advice, and art, encouraging bravery and resistance.

Books for Teens

The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives
by Dashka Slater
An in-depth and riveting account of the events and young people involved in an assault on the 57 bus in Oakland in 2013.

Anger is a Gift
by Mark Oshiro
Sophomore, Moss, decides to fight against systems of oppression in his school six years after his father was murdered by an Oakland police officer.

The Best We Could Do
by Thi Bui
Local artist, Bui, shares the story of her family’s escape from Vietnam in this beautiful and emotional graphic novel memoir.

Children of Blood and Bone
by Tomi Adeyemi
This fast-paced Nigerian inspired fantasy novel is full of action and suspense, as teenaged Zelie fights strong forces in an effort to bring magic back to the kingdom.

Emergency Contact
by Mary H.K. Choi
Two smart and vulnerable young people meet awkwardly and decide, on a whim, to be each other’s emergency contact leading to a surprising and intense digital friendship.

The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr’s life is forever changed when her best friend is killed by a police officer in front of her and she finds herself at the center of the Black Lives Matter movement and even more deeply torn between her two worlds.

I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
by Erika L. Sánchez
When Julia’s “perfect” sister is killed in an accident, she feels even more pressure to be a perfect Mexican daughter.

Monday’s Not Coming
by Tiffany D. Jackson
Claudia seems to be the only one to notice that her best friend is missing, so she is forced to solve the mystery of where she’s gone on her own.

The Prince and the Dressmaker
by Jen Wang
When dressmaker, Frances, is brought to the castle, she learns that it is actually the Prince she’ll be making dresses for in this touching and fun graphic novel.

Turtles All the Way Down
by John Green
Part mystery, and part love story, the reader finds themselves deep inside the mind of a teenage girl with mental illness in John Green’s latest novel.

Books for Adults

America is Not the Heart
by Elaine Castillo
Hero leaves the Philippines to join her uncle and his family in Milpitas, helping with her seven-year-old cousin while seeking her own fulfilling personal life. Buy it for readers who love immigrant stories and family sagas packed with emotion.

Bingo Love
by Tee Franklin, Jenn St. Onge and Joy San
Teen best friends Hazel and Mari are separated by their families when their forbidden love is discovered. Nearly fifty years later their paths cross again in this second-chance romance. Buy it for graphic novel fans who love cheery colors, cute drawings and heartwarming love stories.

by David Sedaris
The most recent collection by beloved essayist Sedaris addresses serious themes of mortality and grief, but still takes turns veering into the absurd with his signature snarky observations. Buy it for readers who love to laugh while they’re reaching for the tissues.

Friday Black
by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
A collection of stories confronting racism, consumerism and violence with satire and surrealism, from an author recently recognized by the National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 award. Buy it for readers who like edgy, haunting and sardonic fiction.

Fruit of the Drunken Tree
by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Set in Bogotá, Colombia during the tumultuous 1990s, an unlikely bond forms between 7-year-old Chula and Petrona, her family’s teenage housekeeper, exposing their stark class differences and leading to unexpected dangers. Buy it for readers who love coming of age stories and vivid settings.

Hawker Fare: Stories & Recipes from a Refugee Chef's Isan Thai & Lao Roots
by James Syhabout with John Birdsall
Oaklander and restauranteur Syhabout combines personal history and heritage with authentic Thai and Lao recipes. Buy it for adventurous home cooks and anyone who agrees that Oakland is delicious.

Sign My Name to Freedom: A Memoir of a Pioneering Life
by Betty Reid Soskin; edited by J. Douglas Allen-Taylor  2018
Over the nine decades of her life, Soskin has been a witness to history and a pioneer in many respects, including helping plan the Rosie the Riveter National Park in Richmond where she still serves as the oldest park ranger in the history of the National Park Service. Buy it for seekers of inspiration, students of Bay Area and African American history, and lovers of extraordinary lives.

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power
edited by Mark Godfrey and Zoé Whitley
This book, a companion to the exhibit that originated at London’s Tate Modern museum last year, is a celebration of the work of Black Artists of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s with both images and essays. Buy it for fans of art books and American visual culture.

There There
by Tommy Orange
Oakland is the setting for this unflinchingly brutal, compassionate, and sometimes humorous debut novel which takes a panoramic look at the lives of urban Native Americans.  The stories of twelve individuals weave together with rage, pain and beauty as their paths converge at the Big Oakland Powwow. Buy it for readers who love powerful, complex and meaningful stories.

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir
by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
A personal story, a celebration of justice and a call to action from a visionary artist, organizer, queer woman and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. Buy it for activists and organizers and everyone.