Book Love

What Graduation Book Should You Give?

A time of pride, joy, and often uncertainty—graduation season is here! Whether you’re welcoming someone into adulthood post-college, or congratulating a preschooler for completing his or her first year of school, a meaningful gift at a time of great change can impact a lifetime.

Luckily, we have plenty of wit and wisdom to inspire new graduates of all ages. Read on for some book-giving help!


Something to Offer Guidance or Learn From

Graduation Gifts

The ABCs of Adulthood by Deborah Copaken and Randy Polumbo

A delightful, worldly riff on learning your ABCs all over again from New York Times bestseller author Deborah Copaken. Perfect for anyone leaving to go to college.

The Secret Art of Being a Grown-Up by Bridget Watson Payne

All those tips, tricks, and perks of being an adult that no one thought to tell you—this engaging guide is the best gift for recent grads, first-apartment dwellers, and anyone who’s ready to grow up, one step at a time.

The Kaufmann Mercantile Guide edited by Alexandra Redgrave and Jessica Hundley

In our world of modern convenience, this book emphasizes the pleasure of doing things yourself. A great gift to encourage the inner utilitarian in us all, with expert tips to inspire and empower.

What to Talk About: With Friends, With Strangers, With Your Aunt’s Boyfriend, Greg

This handy deck is packed with funny and fresh ideas for both small talk and deep discussions. Say goodbye to awkward silences, and hello to better conversations.


Something for the Emerging Creative

Graduation Gifts

Creative Pep Talk by Andy J. Miller

An inspiring tool and beautiful art book in one, this colorful guide offers illustrated words of wisdom from 50 of today’s leading creative professionals.

Art, Inc by Lisa Congdon, edited by Meg Mateo Ilasco

Artist Lisa Congdon unveils the multiplicity of ways to make a living from art—including illustration, licensing, fine art sales, print sales, and teaching—and offers practical advice on cultivating a business mindset, selling and promoting work, and more.

Create Now! by Marlo Johnson

Written in an engaging choose-your-own-path format, this unique guide transforms the creative process into a simple series of multiple-choice questions and answers.

Creative Block by Danielle Krysa

The blogger behind The Jealous Curator interviews 50 successful international artists working in different mediums, and mines their insights on how to conquer self-doubt, stay motivated, and get new ideas to flow.


Something to Inspire and Uplift

Graduation Books

Bad Girls Throughout History by Ann Shen

The 100 revolutionary women highlighted in this gorgeously illustrated book were bad in the best sense of the word: they challenged the status quo and changed the rules for all who followed.

Go Forth!

Chock-full of uplifting text-based art with an emphasis on being brave, courageous, and authentic, it’s the perfect gift for grads, travelers, or anyone else in need of inspiration as they embark on a new adventure.

Letters to the Grad by Lea Redmond

This innovative book of 12 fold-and-mail style letters helps proud family and friends offer the graduate their congratulations, advice, and well-wishes for the future—all in a thoughtful package that will become a cherished memento.

Advice From My 80-Year-Old Self by Susan O’Malley

What advice would your 80-year-old self give you? That is the question artist Susan O’Malley, who was herself to die far too young, asked more than a hundred ordinary people. She then transformed their responses into vibrant text-based images that are an art piece in and of themselves.


Something for the World Explorer


Graduation Books

See America by Creative Action Network

Featuring artwork for 75 national parks and monuments across all 50 states, this engaging keepsake volume celebrates the full range of our nation’s landmarks and treasured wilderness.

City Scratch-Off Maps by Christina Henry de Tessan, illustrated by Debbie Powell

This portable scratch-off map transforms a trip through the city into a scavenger hunt. As travelers make their way to an attraction, they scratch to reveal fun facts and activities that lead to new discoveries and must-see highlights.

Explorers’ Sketchbooks by Kari Herbert and Huw Lewis-Jones

This remarkable book showcases 70 sketchbooks kept by intrepid men and women as they journeyed perilous and unknown environments—frozen wastelands, high mountains, barren deserts, and dense rainforests—with their senses wide open.

Travel Listography by Lisa Nola, illustrated by Kelly Abeln

The Listography series dips into travel with this illustrated journal, created to document all travel adventures: both near and far, and past trips and future destinations.


Something to Cook From

Graduation Books

Bowls! by Molly Watson

Emphasizing flexibility, this cookbook features flavorsome combinations of nutritious grains, proteins, vegetables, a sauce, and something crunchy.

Muffins and Biscuits by Heidi Gibson

Packed with tips and tricks, from making delectable pancakes with muffin batter to turning leftover biscuits into bread pudding, this collection of recipes takes time-tested breakfast favorites to an entirely new level of deliciousness.

Small Victories by Julia Turshen

The process of truly great home cooking is demystified via more than a hundred lessons called out as “small victories” in the funny, encouraging headnotes—lessons learned by Julia through a lifetime of cooking thousands of meals.

One Pan, Two Plates by Carla Snyder

With an emphasis on reducing prep time and the usual sinkful of dishes, cooking instructor Carla Snyder serves up the ideal couple’s guide to simple, complete, and truly delicious meals.


Something for the Young Graduate

Graduation Gifts for the Young Grad

I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Whether celebrating life’s joyous milestones, sharing words of encouragement, or observing the wonder of everyday moments, this sweet and uplifting book is perfect for wishers of every age.

Giving Thanks by Katharine Patterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton

Newbery Medal winner Katherine Paterson and cut-paper artist Pamela Dalton collaborate on this special book about gratitude—a great lesson and reminder for kids to always give thanks, no matter what lies ahead.

Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Meg Hunt

This picture book is a new take on an old favorite, with an independent heroine and an empowering message to girls. Great to encourage young girls to make themselves the hero in their future fairy tale.

Extraordinary People by Michael Hearst, illustrated by Aaron Scamihorn

Learn about the world’s most fascinating individuals and think outside the box with this book, full of crazy, unusual, and inspiring people. Good for someone embarking onto junior high or high school!


Something Light-Hearted and Celebratory

Light-hearted and Celebratory Graduation Gifts

Party Animals Notecard Collection

Whether throwing a dance pawty or raising the woof, these pop-up party animals know how to have a good time. With a cheerful greeting on the front of each card, this collection is great for celebrations and happy hellos.

Find Your Porpoise Journal by Frida Clements

Artist Frida Clements playfully combines colorfully detailed flora and fauna drawings with funny hand-lettered wordplay in this punny journal. Like puns? That’s coo, says the pigeon. Hate puns? Birch, please.

You Need More Sleep by Francesco Marciuliano

The tired graduate should take some advice from our feline friends, whose life is 99% nap. In this book, cats share their invaluable wisdom in short advice columns, such as “Always Stay at Least 30 Feet from a Loved One.”

99 Ways to Open a Beer Bottle Without a Bottle Opener by Brett Stern

Graduating is about learning vital life skills, like how to open a beer without an opener. This indispensable guide features 99 ways (plus one: the spine of the book opens bottles, too) to get the job done fast, using anything from a TV remote to a baby carriage.

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Find even more gift ideas over here. Congratulations to all new grads!

Jenna Homen

Community Manager at Chronicle Books. When she's logged off, she can be found cooking, camping, or in a museum. You can follow her on Twitter at @jn_na.
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