Regardless of whether your grad is wrapping up high school, college, or Pre-K, a book is a great way to show your congratulations and strike just the right sentiment. Especially if you know your graduate is a reader, something bookish makes a thoughtful gift and finding one that reflects your giftee’s interests or provides them some practical advice is even better. Whether you’re looking for something inspirational, practical, or sentimental, check out the suggestions below for the perfect books for graduation gifts!
Inspirational Graduation Gifts
Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World by Admiral William H. McRaven
Admiral McRaven spent years as a Navy Seal and shared the lessons he learned in a commencement speech at the University of Texas that morphed into this book. Focusing on service, decision making, and overcoming hardship, this short and straightforward book can help graduates understand how to move through the difficult times in their lives and inspire them to show up everyday in service of others.
If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young by Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut was one of the most in-demand commencement speakers in the country before his death, for both his humor and his insights into human nature. In this collection of his speeches, Vonnegut touches on what he learned during his extraordinary life and gives advice to students on topics that vary from peace and avoiding military conflict to the importance of family. Gift this book to a graduate for something they can turn to again and again for insight, comfort, and new ideas.
In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham
Telling graduates that “you are enough,” Graham wrote and illustrated this book to talk about her thoughts on how to live a happy life and find comfort in the present. If you’re looking for a graduation gift that instills confidence in the reader, grab a copy of this book for something uplifting to read.
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
Issa Rae, creator of the award winning series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and self-professed introvert, writes about everything from weight to PDA to natural hair in this memoir that is both humorous and touching and sure to resonate with anyone who feels a little out of place. Her coming-of-age story is a great gift for a grad who connects with unique voices and wants to hear from someone who has trod the same awkward, internet influenced path they are about to embark on.
For Every One by Jason Reynolds
A written version of the speech Reynolds gave at the unveiling of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C., this is a stirring and poetic volume. Speaking to every kid struggling to achieve their dream, Reynolds provide an inspiring message for graduates with big dreams and the courage to achieve them.
Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Illustrated by Jonny Sun
If you have a graduate in your life that loves the bite-sized messages of social media, gift them a copy of this collection of Miranda’s best Twitter thoughts. Before his Hamilton days, Miranda wrote mini-pep talks, poems, and greetings for his followers on Twitter, and this book brings together the best of them along with charming and bright illustrations from Jonny Sun.
Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
Whether your gift’s recipient is a fan of Rhimes’s television work or hasn’t heard of her yet, this book will serve as a call to adventure. After realizing that fear and shyness was holding her back from experiencing life, Rhimes decided to spend a year saying “yes” to everything that scared her. Tackling challenges that ranged from physical to emotional, Rhimes shows graduates how to show up for life and burst out of their comfort zone.
Practical Graduation Gifts
Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 535 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown
Perfect for the graduate figuring out how to interview for their first job or rent an apartment, Williams Brown tackles issues ranging from practical to personal with a casual and humorous approach. This book takes a list based approach that new grads can reference for everything from finding a trustworthy mechanic to avoiding awkward office relationships.
The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness by Jill Grimes, MD
Many graduates may be moving to a situation where they’re responsible for their own checkups, appointments, etc. for the first time. Help them learn more about their health and prepare for illnesses and emergencies with this honest guide that gives advice on everything from when to go to the campus health center to how to deal with headaches from too much time in the library. Grads will appreciate having something verified to turn to instead of Dr. Google, and parents will feel better about arming their newly minted adult with the knowledge to keep themselves healthy.
Self-Care for College Students: From Orientation to Graduation, 150+ Easy Ways to Stay Happy, Healthy, and Stress-Free by Julia Dellitt
Just as important as physical health is mental health. Help your graduate prioritize self-care with this book full of actionable ideas that they can squeeze into their busy days, with instructions for everything from meditation to how to navigate support resources on their campus.
The One Week Budget: Learn to Create Your Money Management System in 7 Days or Less! by Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche
Managing money can be one of the most overwhelming elements of moving out on your own. Let Aliche, AKA The Budgetnista, help you create a budget that allows you to prioritize needs while still having something for fun. Walking readers through a simple plan, with plenty of examples, Aliche lays out a plan for setting up a functional budget that will help grads feel secure about their finances.
Sentimental Graduation Gifts/Books for Younger Grads
I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Do you want to see me tear up, anytime, anywhere? Then hand me a copy of this book full of sweet illustrations and wishes for anyone of any age. The message in this book is so beautiful that it’s become my go to gift for almost any celebratory occasion, from new babies to new graduates.
Rosie Revere, Engineer series by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts
The Rosie Revere books, including Ada Twist, Scientist and Iggy Peck, Architect, would make a great tailored gift for a grad that is about to embark on one of these careers. With a growth mindset and colorful illustrations, each book inspires people of all ages to reach for their dreams and never give up!
Junie B. Jones Is a Graduation Girl by Barbara Park and Denise Brunkus
Whether you’re gifting an adult graduate some nostalgia or introducing your newly minted kindergartener to Junie B. Jones, this book is a funny and punchy tale of Junie B. and her rather messy kindergarten graduation.
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
“You must do something to make the world a more beautiful place.” This is the advice Alice Rumphius is given by her grandfather as a little girl and it goes with her as she travels the world and then settles by the sea. A book about what our purpose is here on earth, this story will inspire graduates to reflect on not just their own dreams, but how they can improve the world for others.
Treats for Graduating readers
Want something beyond books for graduation gifts? Add one of these treats for your favorite grads.
Let your reader know you’re thinking of them all year long with a gift subscription to Book Riot’s TBR service. Each month, our excellent Bibliologists will pick out three recently released hardcovers to send to your favorite reader based on their interests. This service is a great way to stay connected with a child or friend who has moved for school or a new job and they’ll be sure to think of you every time they pick up one of these hand-selected books! Buy a one-time or recurring gift!
Make sure your graduate doesn’t lose their place with this personalized bookmark.
Celebrate the accomplishment of your bookish graduate with this set of bookends that can be personalized with their graduation year and the name of their school.
Any book-loving graduate needs something to keep their favorite reading beverage at the correct temperature! Help them out with this tumbler that also features an important mantra to keep them going through job searches, study sessions, and whatever challenges come their way.