12 Inspiring Grad Gifts Aside from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!


We have plenty of great graduation gift ideas for this year’s graduates, whether they’re finishing preschool or high school. Our favorite choice? Inspirational books that celebrate empowerment, adventure, values, and chasing dreams. These books are timeless additions to their shelves, books they’ll cherish for years to come. Even those stepping into adulthood at 18 will find joy in these stories, much like many of us did with classics like Oh, the Places You’ll Go! It’s like a heartfelt greeting card upgrade — and maybe toss in that cash they’re secretly wishing for, too.

Great Books to Give for Graduation Presents That They Will Cherish

Here’s a great idea: if you have young kids, pick one of these books now and save it until they graduate high school. Each year, ask their teachers to write a special message inside or on the back cover of the book. When you give it to them after senior year, it will be a special keepsake, reminding them of their journey and all the adventures still ahead.

The Wonderful Things You Will Be

You’ll really enjoy Emily Winfield Martin’s charming artwork in her book The Wonderful Things You Will Be, which features illustrations that are so lovely, you might want to decorate your children’s rooms with them. But beyond the art, the book encourages kids to think about important values like kindness, appreciating beauty, and making a positive impact as they grow up. Young children will love hearing the story, and older students will find it deeply inspiring in their own unique way.

I Wish You More

You’ll love I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld—it’s sentimental without being overly emotional. If you’re familiar with Amy’s writing, you’ll understand why this book is perfect for graduation gifts. Each page expresses your wishes for the graduate: more happiness than sadness, more celebrations than setbacks, and more moments to reflect than rush through life. It’s written in a modern style but could become a treasured keepsake in your family for years to come.

Whatever You Are Be a Good One

You might know Lisa Congdon’s art from other places, and she’s the illustrator behind Whatever You Are Be a Good One. In this book, she beautifully hand-lettered 100 quotes from a diverse group of authors like Harriet Tubman and Anne Lamott. I think this would make a great gift for high school students, especially if you share it with their favorite teachers and have them write notes next to their favorite quotes. It’s the kind of graduation gift that stays meaningful as you grow older, gaining more significance with each year.

Dare to Dream Big

As your kids leave home and start their own journeys (wow!), Dare to Dream Big by Lorna Gutierrez and Polly Noakes will encourage them to believe in their dreams for our world and to be the ones who can bring positive change. It’s great that this book celebrates the passion our activist kids have for making a difference.

Maybe: A Story about the Endless Potential in All of Us

One of the best books I recommend for graduation gifts is Maybe: A Story about the Endless Potential in All of Us by Kobi Yamada and Gabriella Barouch, especially for older kids. It beautifully explores the idea that perhaps, just perhaps, they are here in this world right now for a special reason, with stunning illustrations that capture this idea perfectly. It’s a lovely reminder of the great things they can do for our world.

Dear Graduate

Authors Charles McInerny and Adam Lawson turn the usual question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” into something better in Dear Graduate. They ask, “What will you do when you grow up?” This makes us think more about the impact we can have on the world rather than just our job titles—whether it’s helping people stay healthy, rescuing those in need, growing beautiful flowers, keeping an open mind, or showing respect to older generations. Although it’s not a picture book, the clear, colorful pages with bold text make this a great gift for younger children and a thoughtful inspiration for teens and young adults alike.

I Wish for You

Wow, the heartfelt emotions in I Wish for You by David Wax and Brett Blumenthal really hit home, especially as I think about my oldest child getting ready for college. Each page shows a beautiful illustration of animal parents and their young, each with a special wish for their child. The zebras wish for uniqueness, the horses wish for freedom, and the wolves wish for finding their voice. (P.S.: There are exactly 12 animals in the book, making it ideal to buy when your child starts elementary school, so each teacher can sign it until their high school graduation.)

You’re Here for a Reason

If your child is feeling stressed about life and the future, that’s completely okay. You’re Here for a Reason by Nancy Tillman offers a gentle reminder that every child is important and every person makes a difference. It might just be the uplifting message they need to hear.


You’ll be captivated by Giovannia Manna’s beautiful watercolor illustrations that go with Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem If… If you don’t remember it from your school days, it’s the one where a father advises his son on how to be a person with strong values, even when the world around him seems chaotic. It feels especially relevant today.


Sandra Magsamen’s playful art style is well-known, and her book You! embodies a message of hope and encouragement. It’s a rhyming book that celebrates chasing your dreams, making it a wonderful gift for preschoolers, high school graduates, or adults who achieve their college degrees later in life.

The North Star

Finding your direction can be tough, but The North Star by Peter H. Reynolds captures this challenge in a way you can relate to. Reynolds encourages you to observe, explore beyond the usual routes, and forge your own path. Just like the North Star guides sailors, this book can also help graduates navigate their journey ahead. It’s advice that resonates with everyone.

Choose the Best Book as Grad Gift for Your Child

Choosing the perfect graduation gift can be as meaningful as the milestone itself. Whether your graduate is stepping out of preschool or high school, each book recommended here offers a timeless message of empowerment, inspiration, and reflection. From whimsical tales that encourage chasing dreams to profound reflections on character and purpose, these books not only celebrate achievement but also provide enduring wisdom for the journey ahead. Consider gifting one of these books to create a cherished keepsake that will inspire and uplift for years to come, reminding your graduate of their potential to make a difference in the world.