7 Picture Books for Grads

High school graduates throwing their mortarboards in the air --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

On graduation day, many people turn to the old standby of Oh, The Places You’ll Go! for a sweet gift to inspire those stepping into the world.  It’s a great book, to be sure, but I guarantee you that if it’s all wrapped up in a nice flat package, everyone will know what it is already.  Consider a book that is just slightly “left-of-expected” to inspire and encourage people of all ages.  Any of these titles below would be excellent for teens leaving junior high all the way thru post-grad students!

What Do You Do With an Idea? For innovators. For inventors. For artists. For thinkers. For all human beings who have the capacity for amazing potential but need a little encouragement to realize their dreams. The book touches on how to deal with people who’ll tell you your ideas are no good, and how to make your idea grow (spend time with it and feed it good food of course!)  A very inspiring sort of book…



If You’re Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow by Cooper Edens.  This treasure is sadly out of print but it’s well worth a dedicated hunt. I was given this book on my 16th birthday and it has stayed with me for years. It is perfect and whimsical and thoughtful.  “If tomorrow morning, the sky falls… have clouds for breakfast.  If you have butterflies in your stomach… invite them into your heart.”  Just a delight all around. One of my all time favorites.



Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book (Little Golden Books. This is perfect for parents to give their (grown) children who were raised on Little Golden Books. It features all the best of illustrators like Eloise Wilkins, Garth Williams, Richard Scarry etc. along with sweet little reminders on how to get the most out of life…


 Just For Today is the new release by illustrator Bimba Landmann, of whom I am an admiring fan. It takes the words from St. John XXIII’s famous decalogue (also used by AA) and puts them into picture book form in an offbeat but reverent way.  It starts with  Just for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.” And ends with: “Just for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.” Wise words for all of us…


Maps is your treat for the up and coming world traveler or your domestic, wanna-be world traveler. I spent the better part of an hour oohing and ahhing over this book and drinking in the wonderful little interpretations by Aleksandra Mizielinska. Each page is a gorgeous spread filled with factual and beautiful details… all done in a whimsical, but not exclusively childish way.



 So Few of Me by Peter Reynolds is the book I would give someone like myself— someone who feels like the enormity of her to-do list is beyond her and wants a clone.  Well, the child in this book gets a clone… and then some, to help him with everything to do. In a busy, frenetic world, this simple book steps back and reminds us of the very profound idea that we don’t need to do more or BE more: “What if we did less… but did our best?”



 Whatever You Are, Be a Good One: 100 Inspirational Quotations Hand-Lettered by Lisa Congdon. Admittedly, this is cheating. It’s not technically designed for children… but it sure is lovely. And it’s perfect for inspiring people (okay, frankly… girls) who are headed into the world.  Many of the quotes in here are ones I’d want to cut out and frame and hang on my wall… because I like the quote, I like the person who said it and I like the art: case in point: “Believe there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself and never mind the rest.”  —Beatrix Potter.




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