No one is too old for a bedtime story, or a quiet moment with a picture book when things feel hard—even the Zs and millennial kiddos that are about to take over the universe. With their sophisticated blend of art and text, picture books can tackle the big ideas that we’re all mulling over as young adults. Of course, Oh, the Places You’ll Go is a classic gift for new graduates who are embarking into the big wide yonder that is the real world. But if you’re looking for something a little more modern, or just want another book with appropriate and insightful words of wisdom to pair with your Seuss, these titles will inspire and guide impressionable youths.
Wherever You Go, by Pat Zietlow Miller
Whether they are headed toward more school, writing a book, or traveling the world, your grad probably wishes he could see what the future holds and be reassured everything will work out just as he hopes it will. This book follows a rabbit and his friends as they travel across the countryside, by the sea, through the city, and then back home. The rhyming text pulls readers along for the ride. This story celebrates the possibilities that lie just beyond the next bend. They’re beautiful, even though we can’t see them yet.
Ideas Are All Around, by Philip C. Stead
Caldecott winner Philip C. Stead captures the spirit of wonder and mystery that surrounds us all throughout life—and is especially present as we experiment with finding our place in the world. The book follows an author and his dog as they walk through the neighborhood, and the author muses about anything and everything, including wooly mammoths, sunflowers, war, and the meaning of life.
The Knowing Book, by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Matthew Cordell
Sometimes it seems life is about swaying back and forth between knowing and not knowing. Some days the amount we don’t know is overwhelming. The Knowing Book follows a young rabbit as he explores the world and returns home, both to his family and himself. The story reminds readers how much we always knew and can never forget. (Spoiler alert: this is the stuff that matters.)
What Do You Do With an Idea?, by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom
Having an idea can feel exciting and energizing. Or it can feel like a nag; something you wish someone else would take care of. But try as you might to resist them, good ideas have a way of following us around. Perfect for young entrepreneurs, this book encourages readers to follow their dreams and share their talents with the world. The book shows a young child first trying to ignore his idea, then following it and building on it, and finally sharing it. (That’s what you do with an idea!)
I Wish You More, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
You know when you are trying to sign a graduation card and your heart wells with all you hope for this special someone, but your mind goes blank when you try to turn that feeling into words? This book is that card done right. It’s a special way to let someone know you hope they will discover the big and small pleasures in life, whether that’s collecting treasures on the beach or easy days with those you love.
The Wonderful Things You Will Be, by Emily Winfield Martin
Perhaps the greatest gift a parent or teacher can give us is to encourage us to be our whole selves. This book is all about being whoever you are in all its loveliness. You may be someone who plays in the garden or someone who cares for animals. Or perhaps you’ll be a writer. Or someone who likes to dress up as a pencil, for goodness sakes. It’s all good, and this book encourages readers to let their inner spark shine.
Journey, by Aaron Becker
We’re all on a journey, and graduation is a sign that we’ll soon be exploring new worlds, learning, and growing in new ways. This wordless book illustrates one girl’s brave, determined journey into a strange world. With a red marker, she controls her fate, drawing a magic carpet that gives her a new perspective on who she is and where she belongs. This book will leave readers feeling empowered and inspired.
What picture books do you love to give new graduates?