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6 Picture Books to Give as Graduation Gifts (Other than Oh, The Places You’ll Go!)

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Jesse Doogan

Staff Writer

Jesse Doogan writes about food, faith, books, and DIY projects, and sometimes even puts these things on her blog. She works in publishing and lives near Chicago with her cat. She tweets about all these things at @jadoogan.   Blog Twitter: @jadoogan

Picture books make ideal graduation gifts, and I’m not just talking about preschool graduations. I know, I know, you want to give your favorite college or high school grad something that will prepare them for adult life, but I am here to tell you that picture books are perfect for that. Picture books bring a lovely nostalgia factor for young adults, and as your grad is getting ready to leave the nest, being reminded of curling up in someone’s lap to be read to might be just the comfort they need. Picture books can also work as a sort of yearbook. Pass one around to family and friends or leave one out at the graduation party and ask people to write notes of encouragement or favorite memories on the end sheets. And not to be crass, but picture books are also a great size for acting as a money-holder card.

Now, since you’re convinced to pick up a picture book as a graduation gift, you’re probably going to reach for the most obvious one: Oh, The Places You’ll Go. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! is a great book. It really is! It’s fun and light and encouraging and the right amount of serious. It makes a great graduation gift. But it’s also the one everyone reaches for! It might even be that your favorite graduate already has it. So what are some other books in the same vein that you can give instead? Here are six other options!

the Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin

“When I look at you,

And you look at me,
I wonder what wonderful
Things you will be.”

This dreamy book by renowned illustrator Emily Winfield Martin (of Black Apple fame) teaches grads that they can grow to be anything they can imagine.

Your Magnificent Chooser by John Ortberg

“There are wonderful things

That your Chooser can do
For your Chooser you see
Is what makes you just you!” 

A super cute Dr. Seuss–style book by pastor John Ortberg that shows grads they have the power to make decisions that can shape their life! They have a Chooser, they just have to learn how to use it. (full disclosure: I work for the publisher)

I Wish You More by Amy Krause Rosenthal

“I wish you more ups than downs

I wish you more give than take”

Wish great things for your favorite graduate! This is a sweet send-off into the great wide world.


What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada

“And then I realized what you do with an idea…
You change the world.”

Encourage your favorite grad to have great ideas, and then nurse, encourage, wrestle with, and develop them.


Yay You by Sandra Boynton

“There are so many choices.
The world is immense.
Take a good look around
and decide what makes sense.”

Beloved picture book author Sandra Boynton wrote this for her son at his graduation, and it’s chock-full of happy, bouncing, wise advice.

All Our Wild Wonder by Sarah Kay

“We were dandelion seeds released to the wind,
She asked for no return.
We are saplings now
With gentle hands.”

Poet Sarah Kay wrote this tribute to teachers that also works as as encouragement to your grad as they finish up their time in school.


In the event that you are still unconvinced, and you really need to give your graduate a copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go, at least go for this amazing pop-up version.

Oh the Places You’ll Go Pop-Up