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Graduation Gift Worthy: Books For Kids

Moving on to the next stage of life, be that graduation from kindergarten, high school or college is a beautiful and momentous occasion, and is a great opportunity to express love for and confidence in those you cherish. Regardless of the age of a graduate, children's books make a great gift that's both sentimental as well as useful (and sometimes a little humorous), and while "Oh the Places You'll Go" is the most common choice, there are some other fabulous choices that will let you gift outside the box—these are a few of our favorites!

Wherever You Go book
#1
Wherever You Go
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

This book has amazing rhymes, but even more so a great message. It talks about adventures being everywhere and there are ways to reach our dreams if we will only get started and move forward. There are lots of different roads that lead to lots of different places we just need to choose the best one that will lead us where we want to go.

Roads give you chances to seek and explore. Want an adventure? Just open your door. Join an adventurous rabbit and his animal friends as they journey over steep mountain peaks, through bustling cityscapes, and down long, winding roads to discover the magical worlds that await them just outside their doors. Award-winning author Pat Zietlow Miller's lilting rhyme and bestselling illustrator Eliza Wheeler's enchanting, lush landscapes celebrate the possibilities that lie beyond the next bend in the road--the same road that will always lead you home again.

Be Happy! book
#2
Be Happy!
Written and illustrated by Monica Sheehan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I love the encouraging, hopeful, and happy messages in this book! I appreciate the reminders of qualities we can have or develop to help us be happy. :) I think it's great that the end of the book is a question and that it can get you talking further about what makes you happy!

Monica Sheehan has taken her bestselling book be happy. and created an irresistible little gem for people BIG & small. So open it up and get inspired to . . . Sing and dance a little! Have fun! Be kind--be brave! And be the best YOU.

What Do You Do with an Idea? book
#3
What Do You Do with an Idea?
Written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

I love this entire series of books, but this one is definitely my favorite. It's beautifully illustrated, inspirational, motivational and clever. That being said, it's definitely geared towards a little older audience.

A young boy comes up with an idea and he keeps it safe until one day he realizes the amazing power it can have.

The Wonderful Things You Will Be book
#4
The Wonderful Things You Will Be
Written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I absolutely love this book. The illustrations are so beautiful and unique, and the message is even better. I love that it shares the message of unconditional love, that the parent will love whoever their child grows up to be. The book also talks about having courage, kindness, boldness, and loving others. Such a sweet book, one of my favorites!!!

Illustrations and simple, rhyming text reveal a parent's musings about what a child will become, knowing that the child's kindness, cleverness, and boldness will shine through no matter what, as will the love they share.

Edmund Unravels book
#5
Edmund Unravels
Written and illustrated by Andrew Kolb
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

Super cute and original! This book is particularly great as a gift for anyone leaving the nest and venturing a little farther from home than they have before, be that starting school for the first time, going away to summer camp or leaving for college. The illustrations are modern and bold and the message that adventuring is great, especially when you remember that you have a loving home to come back to is beautifully reassuring.

This delightful debut picture book celebrates both the joy of venturing into the unknown and the value of staying connected to loved ones back home. It stars a little ball of yarn who can’t resist the tug of adventure, the twists and turns of discovery, or the comfort of family and friends. Edmund is a ball of yarn and a ball of energy! From the time he could roll, he’s been bouncing down his front steps to explore, and his parents have always been right there to reel him in and roll him back up. But now that he’s bigger, Edmund is ready to discover the wonders of the world. Everything is new and exciting—but sometimes, even a little ball of yarn gets lonely, and there’s nothing better than the comfort of being around those he cares about.

  1. Sometimes You Fly - B is for Bookworm - Such a sweet read! I love the overall message of this book and the examples it gives of true success. The illustrations in this book are fabulous, and the before and after element of the text and illustrations is a fun part of the book.

  2. Journey - The Book Snob Mom - This is a beautiful wordless picture book following a young girl through her imagination to a world where things don't always work out as she expects. She has to think fast, but with a little creative problem solving and a lot of imagination she's able to discover just what she was looking for—a friend. A fresh take on a journey with elements vaguely reminiscent of Where the Wild Things Are and Harold and the Purple Crayon!

  3. Oh, the Places You'll Go! - Dr. Seuss's wonderfully wise Oh, the Places You'll Go! is the perfect send-off for grads--from nursery school, high school, college, and beyond! From soaring to high heights and seeing great sights to being left in a Lurch on a prickle-ly perch, Dr. Seuss addresses life's ups and downs with his trademark humorous verse and illustrations, while encouraging readers to find the success that lies within. In a starred review, Booklist notes, "Seuss's message is simple but never sappy: life may be a 'Great Balancing Act,' but through it all 'There's fun to be done.'" A perennial favorite and a perfect gift for anyone starting a new phase in their life!

  4. I Wish You More - A New York Times bestseller! Some books are about a single wish. Some books are about three wishes. The infallible team of Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have combined their extraordinary talents to create this exuberant book of endless good wishes. Wishes for curiosity and wonder, for friendship and strength, laughter and peace. Whether celebrating life's joyous milestones, sharing words of encouragement, or observing the wonder of everyday moments, this sweet and uplifting book is perfect for wishers of every age.

The North Star book
#10
The North Star
Written and illustrated by Peter H Reynolds
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Thoughts from The Goodfather

The North Star tackles the deep yet important topic of our personal life journeys. It addresses concepts like the voices and messages that influence us, how we'll treat others, and being confident in what our own goals are. It does all of this in a remarkably simple story that is meaningful to adults but still understandable to young readers. The simple illustrations bring some simplicity to the deeper ideas presented by the story.

Ideal for graduates! A gorgeous new edition of the universal fable that has inspired seekers of all ages to follow their heart’s desire. Ask yourself where it is you want to go. . . . It is often said that life is a journey, and it’s true. But sometimes it’s hard to know which path to follow, when signs point in so many directions. In this beautifully illustrated book, Peter H. Reynolds once again encourages readers to observe, to wonder, and to consider diverging from the well-worn path—to pursue their dreams. Originally published ten years ago, The North Star has had a profound effect on its many readers. This edition, featuring all-new art, celebrates the book’s own decade-long voyage connecting people around the world. It has inspired classroom activities, a musical, and thousands more thoughtful journeys.

Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life book
#11
Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life
Written and illustrated by Kimberly Dean , James Dean
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

Full of well-known and wise quotations ("Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work" - Thomas Edison) with off-the-cuff, more conversational additions by Pete the Cat. It's a fun, friendly approach to words of wisdom and interpreting them that's appropriate for kids, or bigger kids heading off into the world!

Everyone's favorite cat shares a collection of his favorite inspirational and feel-good quotes in Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life. Pete's glass-half-full outlook on life shines through as he adds his fun take on well-known classics attributed to luminaries from Albert Einstein to Confucius to Abraham Lincoln to Shakespeare and more! Fans of Pete the Cat will delight in this amusing look at quotes that are accompanied by Pete's witty responses and Pete illustrations by New York Times bestselling artist James Dean.

Reach for the Stars book
#12
Reach for the Stars
Written and illustrated by Serge Bloch
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-18

A boy receives many confusing words of advice in the form of phrases like, "Dust yourself off and get back in the saddle."

Happy Dreamer book
#13
Happy Dreamer
Written and illustrated by Peter H Reynolds
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A "dreamer maximus" describes the many ways one can dream, and the importance of being a happy dreamer.

Yay, You! book
#14
Yay, You!
Written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On For new graduates, or for anyone facing imminent change, here is profound insight, bold inspiration, and truly ensloxifying advice. Also an occasional hippo. No wombats. What's more, Yay,You! will not overstress the weary mind. It's nice and short, with lots of pictures, no chapters, no index, no graphs, no study questions, and not a single Suggestion for Further Reading. Portable, colorful, and low in saturated fats, this is truly the perfect gift for that special onwardly-mobile someone. There are so many choices. The world is immense. Take a good look around and decide what makes sense...

  1. You! - A life full of adventure first requires big dreams. And big dreams need big encouragement. From world-renowned author and artist Sandra Magsamen comes YOU!, offering inspiration and hope to readers from 1 to 100. Includes colorful, lively illustrations along with whimsical rhyming text that can be cherished in almost any setting.

  2. I Can be Anything - Zoe is sure that she can be anything she wants to be, despite a little voice of doubt that points out the problems with her ideas--but first she needs to learn how to read.

  3. The Three Questions - Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy, this exquisitely illustrated book explores the meaning of life. Full color.

  4. You're Here for a Reason - Now available in board book, You're Here for a Reason, from national-bestselling and beloved author Nancy Tillman, takes a universal truth and makes it accessible for readers young and old. Not only are we loved, but we also matter. In this tender and timeless read-along book, Tillman reminds us of this message in beautiful illustrations as children and animals interact with acts of kindness. You're here for a reason. If you think you're not I would just say that perhaps you forgot . . . a piece of the world that is precious and dear would surely be missing if you weren't here. If not for your smile and your laugh and your heart this place we call home would be minus a part. Thank goodness you're here! Thank goodness times two! I just can't imagine a world without you. Not only are we loved, but we also matter. Once again, NancyTillman takes a universal truth and makes it accessible forreaders young and old, as children and animals interact withacts of kindness.

Toy Boat book
#19
Toy Boat
Written by Randall de Seve and illustrated by Loren Long, Randall de Seve
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

A toy boat gets separated from its owner and has an adventure on the high seas.

Whatever You Are, Be a Good One book
#20
Whatever You Are, Be a Good One
Written by and illustrated by Lisa Congdon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A quote book like no other, this thought-provoking collection compiles the timeless wisdom of great original minds— from Marie Curie to Stephen King, Joan of Arc to Jack Kerouac, Oscar Wilde to Harriet Tubman—brilliantly hand-lettered by beloved indie artist Lisa Congdon. Readers will find enlightening insights ("Wisdom begins in wonder"— Socrates), stirring calls to action ("Leap and the net will appear"—John Burroughs), and stimulating encouragements ("Be curious, not judgmental"—Walt Whitman) beautifully illuminated on every page. A delightful reminder to get out there and make the most of life, Whatever You Are, Be a Good One is perfect for recent graduates, creative thinkers, and anyone looking for a little inspiration.

Exclamation Mark book
#21
Exclamation Mark
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A punctuation mark feels bad that he doesn't fit in with the others until a friend reveals the possibilities that exist when differences are accepted.

All Our Wild Wonder book
#22
All Our Wild Wonder
Written by Sarah Kay and illustrated by Sophia Janowitz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

All Our Wild Wonder is a vibrant tribute to extraordinary educators and a celebration of learning. The perfect gift for the mentors in our lives, this charming, illustrated poem reminds us of the beauty in, and importance of, cultivating curiosity, creativity, and confidence in others.

How Big Is the World? book
#23
How Big Is the World?
Written and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Little Mole asks each animal he meets how big the world is, and they all give progressively larger answers, ranging from the size of a spider's web to an endless ocean.

  1. The Knowing Book - This picture book is a celebration of life and the perfect gift to mark any milestone, from a new baby to a birthday to graduation. Illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell! In this inspiring story, a young rabbit travels through the wide world, experiencing joy and sorrow and wonder. Along the way he chooses a path and explores the unknown. And at the end of his journey, braver and more confident, he returns home—a place he can always count on. Author Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s wise words and Cordell’s beautiful illustrations combine in this book ideal for any special gift-giving occasion.

  2. Only One You - Adri promises to remember his parents' words of wisdom about how to live his life, such as "Find your own way. You don't have to follow the crowd" and "Make wishes on the stars in the nighttime sky."

  3. If You Hold a Seed - A young boy plants a seed that, with water, sunlight, care, and patience, grows into a strong, tall tree.

Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!