We can almost hear those opening notes of “Pomp and Circumstance,“ as everyone rushes to wrap a new copy of Oh, the Places You’ll Go! for their favorite grad. But if you’re looking for something a little different to give the graduate on their big day, we have some awesome options. Whether you know a graduate who is getting ready to make the leap from kindergarten to first grade, or one who is finishing the last exam before they get their college degree, we have rounded up a few perfect new gift books that might just give the perennial Dr. Seuss favorite a run for its money.
The Happiest Tree: A Story of Growing Up, by Hyeon-Ju Lee
For those who loved Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, The Happiest Tree tells another heartwarming and tear-jerking tale of taking root and branching out. A gingko tree outside an apartment building narrates this sweet and emotionally poignant story. As it grows, the gingko gets to know residents on different floors of the building—a piano class on the ground floor when it is 10; at 14, an artist on the second floor whose muse is the tree itself; a family as it gets older still; and ultimately a lonely elderly woman. The book offers a beautiful message all about the transitions between sadness and joy that come with growing up.
Love the Fur You’re In, by Random House
In celebration of Sesame Street’s 50th anniversary comes this colorful picture book filled with important advice to keep in mind whether you’re graduating from preschool or college. Help your grad to find a sunny day to sweep the clouds away with wise and witty wisdom such as “Get out in the rain and dance,” “Don’t hide your light under a trashcan lid,” “Be someone’s Super Grover!” and more. Full-color pictures of beloved characters like Big Bird, Grover, Oscar, Ernie, Bert, Elmo, Cookie Monster, the Count, and others will have everyone feeling nostalgic and asking, “Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?”
In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It, by Lauren Graham
Lauren Graham may be best known for talking as fast as she could on the show Gilmore Girls, but she’s also a bestselling author of both fiction and memoir and an all-around wise and witty woman, which made her a perfect pick to deliver the commencement address at her alma mater, Langley High, in 2017. In this expansion of her funny, grounding, and inspiring speech, Graham conveys such pearls of wisdom as, “If you’re kicking yourself for not having accomplished all you should have by now, don’t worry about it. Even without any ‘big’ accomplishments yet to your name, you are enough,” making her book an awesome gift for grads.
Believe: A Pop-Up Book of Possibilities, by Robert Sabuda
Proof that we never outgrow the delightful whimsy of a pop-up book, paper artist Robert Sabuda’s new book offers a magnificently designed reflection on moving from dreaming to achieving. Flat images representing possibilities—a pinecone, an egg, a paper airplane—accompany simple text on one spread, and each is followed up by an amazing 3-D pop-up image representing a successful coming to fruition—a towering tree, a flight of birds, a rocket blasting off. Readers of all ages will appreciate the intricate engineering of the paper works and the message of following your dreams.
For Every One, by Jason Reynolds
Bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s For Every One was originally performed at the Kennedy Center’s unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and thankfully, it was also turned into a beautiful volume that can be gifted to any grad dreaming of something big. In a collection of short poems, Reynolds writes of his own struggles, hopes, dreams, insecurities, and more: “At sixteen / I thought / I would’ve made it / by now. / Now / I’m making up / what making it / means.” His uplifting message of perseverance will truly resonate with anyone and everyone.
Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonny Sun
Who couldn’t use a little motivational pick-me-up in the morning and some comforting and calming words of reassurance before bed each night? That’s precisely what creator and star of Hamilton Lin-Manuel Miranda and illustrator and acclaimed artist Jonny Sun deliver in this 200-plus–page tome. Miranda has been offering up these original sayings and aphorisms to his Twitter followers for quite some time, and they resonated so deeply with so many people that Miranda collected the best of his beginning- and end-of-the-day messages, accompanied by Sun’s black-and-white drawings, in this grad-gift–worthy book.
Getting There: A Workbook for Growing Up, by Mari Andrew
Instagram artist Mari Andrew gave readers a candid and vulnerable look into her own winding path to adulthood, which involved a breakup and the death of her father in 2015, with Am I There Yet?: The Loop-de-loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood. And now, this new guided companion to her first book gives those on their own journey some imaginative and inspiring prompts and questions and plenty of space for recording their own trials, tribulations, and celebrations as they move into adulthood. This is a perfect gift for grads as they venture out into the world.
What are your favorite new books to gift to graduates?