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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!

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All Our Wild Wonder
Written by Sarah Kay & 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.

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Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life
Written & illustrated by James Dean and Kimberly Dean
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!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

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Happy Dreamer
Written & 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.

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Reach for the Stars, and Other Advice for Life's Journey
Written & 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.”

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Yay, You!
Written & 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…

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

  • How Big Is the World? - 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.

  • I Can Be Anything! Don't Tell Me I Can't - 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.

  • Whatever You Are, Be a Good One - 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.

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If You Hold a Seed
Written & illustrated by Elly MacKay
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

A young boy plants a seed that, with water, sunlight, care, and patience, grows into a strong, tall tree.

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The North Star
Written & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
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.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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.

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Sometimes You Fly
Written by Katherine Applegate & illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Thoughts from 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.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

This gorgeous gift book, equally perfect for preschool graduations or college commencements, baby showers or birthdays, is an inspirational tribute to the universal struggles and achievements of childhood. Beginning with a first birthday, the scenes travel through childhood triumphs and milestones, coming full circle to graduation. A magical blend of succinct text and beautiful watercolors renders each moment with tenderness and humor and encourages readers to “remember then, with every try, sometimes you fail . . . sometimes you fly.”

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I Wish You More
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

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The Knowing Book
Written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich & illustrated by Matthew Cordell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

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.

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  • The Sky Is the Limit: A Celebration of All the Things You Can Do - From the bestselling creators of Happiness Is comes a celebration of the many delightful, triumphant, silly, sweet, life-changing experiences that lie ahead. A world full of wonder is waiting for you . . . the sky is the limit of what you can do! The only thing needed to begin this marvelous adventure? YOU! From far-reaching endeavors to the quieter milestones that have a magic all of their own, this gift-y picture book celebrates life’s most meaningful moments, and encourages readers to reach for a sky’s worth of possibilities. • A joyous all-ages book perfect for families and children celebrating everyday accomplishments • An inspiring graduation gift • Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar are the creators of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Happiness Is… series.

  • 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!

  • Ideas Are All Around - As an author and his dog, Wednesday, walk through their neighborhood, they look at sunflowers, say hi to Frank, a turtle, who makes quick for the water and disappears, and watch a train rumble by as they walk uphill to a big purple house that belongs to their friend Barbara. Wednesday chases squirrels while the two friends discuss fishing and war and how back before the neighborhood was there enormous woolly mammoths roamed where houses now sit. Thoughts open up to other thoughts, and ideas are born and carried forward, often transforming into other ideas until he finds that ideas really are all around, you just have to know what to do with them. This title has Common Core connections.

  • 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.

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Exclamation Mark
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & 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.

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You're Here for a Reason
Written & illustrated by Nancy Tillman
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.”

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Be Happy!: A Little Book for a Happy You and a Better World
Written & illustrated by Monica Sheehan
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!
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

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.

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Toy Boat
Written by Randall de Seve & illustrated by Loren Long and 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.

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Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Written & illustrated by Dr. Seuss
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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!

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  • 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.”

  • The Wonderful Things You Will Be - 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!!!

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