Children's Books that Make Great Graduation Gifts

Find The Perfect Gift For Your Child's Next Stafe

From Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss to Pete the Cat books, there are a number of children's picture books that make excellent graduation gifts. If you are looking for a unique gift for a high school or college graduate, I recommend these grown-up friendly children's books for their wit and wisdom. One of the benefits of this type of gift is that you can share some important messages and tips with a graduate without sounding like you are preaching.

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Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life

Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life
A great graduation gift. HarperCollins

Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life contains, as the subtitle says, Tips from a Cool Cat for living an AWESOME Life. Unlike the other Pete the Cat book on this list, this book is not a story.  Instead, the book by Kimberly and James Dean is a collection of well-known quotations, along with Pete the Cat's interpretation in words and pictures.

Quotations are from William Wordsworth, Helen Keller, John Wooden and Plato, among others. There's a lot of wisdom in the book and thanks to Pete's laid back attitude and engaging explanations, Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life is both a fun and a worthwhile gift for a graduate.

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Oh, the Places You’ll Go

Cover art of Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss
Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss. Random House

Oh, the Places You'll Go is an inspirational book in rhyme that speaks directly to the reader and provides an uplifting send-off for people entering a new phase in their lives; Dr. Seuss also points out that there will be difficult times as well as good times.

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I wish You More

I Wish You More - Picture Book Cover Art
Chronicle Books

I Wish You More, by the award-winning team of picture book creators Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld is a book full of good wishes, expressed in a way that young children will enjoy and that graduates will appreciate. The wishes are presented as expressions of love and delivered in double-page spreads featuring a simple sentence and an accompanying illustration.

While acknowledging life isn't perfect, the wishes are always for the best that can happen under a variety of circumstances. Wishes include, "I wish you more give than take" and "I wish you more umbrella than rain." The book's creators effectively combine humor, wisdom and affection in I Wish You More.

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Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Cover of Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons picture book

If your graduate tends to worry and get uptight about things that go wrong, this is a good book to share. Pete, who is a pretty laid-back cat, has four groovy buttons on his shirt. What happens when one by one they pop off?

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If You Hold a Seed

Cover of If You Hold s Seed
If You Hold a Seed. The Perseus Books Group

Author and Illustrator Elly MacKay's luminous illustrations complement this quiet story about a little boy who plants a seed and patiently cultivates and cares for it over the seasons and years until it reaches maturity. This story also serves as a metaphor for working towards a dream/goal with care and patience and reaching it over time, which makes If You Hold a Seed a good graduation gift.

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Only One You

Cover art of the children's picture book Only One You
Rising Moon Books

In this picture book written and illustrated by Linda Kranz, a mother and father decide it is time to share their wisdom with their son, Adri. Adri and his parents are colorful "rockfish" and live in a large community of brightly colored and intricately decorated rockfish. While Adri's parents' words are indeed wise, it is the mixed media artwork illustrating their meaning that makes this book so special.

For example, "If something gets in your way, move around it" is illustrated with a line of rockfish that detours around a fishing line with a worm on it. The clever illustrations keep the book from seeming "preachy," getting across some important points with wit and good cheer.

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Henry Hikes to Fitchburg

Henry Hikes to Fitchburg - Children's Picture Book Cover Art
Houghton Mifflin

The author and artist, D.B. Johnson, uses a quotation from Henry David Thoreau as the basis for the plot. The lively artwork and seeing Thoreau and his friend portrayed as bears adds to the enjoyment. However, there is an important message here. Thoreau stressed the importance of simplicity rather than material goods. With all of the emphasis on getting ahead in life, this book helps to put things in perspective.

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Cover art for Zoom by Istvan Banyai

Istvan Banyai's Zoom is a bright and colorful wordless book that is sure to amuse graduates while reinforcing the importance of standing back and looking at the "Big Picture" and getting all the information you need before making decisions. This book is perfect for the graduate who says s/he is looking at the Big Picture when planning for the future but actually has tunnel vision.