While there are so many graduation gift ideas that we could give to our accomplished kids, friends and relatives, we especially love the idea of giving a special, inspirational book for graduation gifts. Especially when it delivers messages of empowerment, adventure, and pursuing one’s dreams.
Whether you’re feeling wildly sentimental about your babies embarking on the Kindergarten journey or your grown-too-sooners headed off to college, believe us when we say, we know the feeling all too well. So we’ve put together 8 really lovely options that we hope will remain on their bookshelves for life.
And yes, we do think those 18-year-olds who are heading out into the big big world will still appreciate these children’s stories too, just as so many of us appreciated Oh The Places You’ll Go.
Just think of it as a glorified greeting card — and maybe slip in that gift card or cash they’re really hoping for, too.
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8 Books for Graduation Gifts That We Love
We adore the perfectly sentimental but not-too-sappy I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. Each page tells your kid exactly what you hope for your grad: more ups than downs, more woo-hoo than whoa, and more pause than fast-forward. This book is modern in its prose, but has the potential to be a forever keepsake in your family.
I’m a huge fan of Emily Winfield Martin’s quirky, beautiful art, and her book The Wonderful Things You Will Be (also at very top) is filled with illustrations lovely enough to hang on your kids’ walls. But the beauty goes deeper than the art; this book challenges kids to think about what’s really important — standing up for good, finding beauty, and becoming life-givers as they go through this world. Preschoolers will love listening to it, and high schoolers will be inspired by it on a whole different level.
Sandra Magsamen’s whimsical illustration style has become iconic, and her 2015 release, You!, captures this spirit of hope and inspiration. It’s a rhyming book all about following your dreams, which makes it a great graduation gift for preschoolers or adults who finally earn that college degree later in life.
You may recognize the illustrator responsible for Whatever You Are Be a Good One, because Lisa Congdon graces our pages so often. But even if it’s your first time here (welcome!), you’ll definitely recognize the incredibly diverse list authors of the 100 quotes she’s exquisitely hand-lettered: Marie Curie. Walt Whitman. Harriet Tubman. Anne Lamott. Emily Dickinson. Socrates. In fact, the title itself is a quote from none other than Abraham Lincoln. While young kids may not yet appreciate all the advice just yet, they can still lose themselves in the vibrant, playful pages. Even so, it’s the kind of book that grows with you well into adulthood, gathering more meaning with each passing year.
If your child is feeling overwhelmed by life or maybe feeling a bit lost in the crowd, the lovely reminder in You’re Here for a Reason by Nancy Tillman might be exactly the lift they need. But even if they’re not feeling down, the message that everything they do means something and every person matters will still be an inspiration as they finish out their school years. It’s even been a reminder I’ve needed to look at some days, too.
I’m completely mesmerized by Giovannia Manna’s gorgeous watercolors in her version of Rudyard Kipling’s classic poem If…. In case you don’t remember it from your own school days, this is the one in which a father he tells his son all the things he can do to be a person of good character in a world that seems to be going crazy around him (um, hello). These are clearly timeless lessons that we want our all our kids — boys and girls, old and young — to learn now and remember forever.
Sandra Boynton is awesome. Period. If your kids are (or were) as in love with her as ours are, then her book Yay, You! will be a perfect graduation gift book. In her classic, no-frills style of poetry, she reminds kids to just find the opportunities that makes sense for them in this great big world. A low stress kind of inspirational message — just as we like it. You do you.
Sometimes it’s really hard to find your path, and The North Star by Peter H. Reynolds is all about that struggle. It reminds us to look around, keep an eye on what’s going on, and sometimes get off the beaten path to make your own way in the world. Like the North Star itself, this book helps guide our children to find their way. And that’s advice we can all get behind.
…And One Cool Tip for Making a Book a More Special Graduation Gift
We love this very clever idea we’ve gotten from friends and teachers alike: if you have younger children, buy one of these books now but hold onto it until your child’s high school graduation. Ask each of their their teachers between now and then to write a special message to your child on the inside or back cover of the book. The end result will be absolutely amazing, and a perfect way to inspire your kids to see just how far they’ve come…and how much farther they can go.