Extra congratulations to the students who are moving up and out in 2020--amid so much uncertainty. Here are some great books that make inspiring graduation gifts; they’re loosely organized by age, starting with ones for younger kids. (Although who are we kidding? It’s the ones for little kids that make teens and adults teariest at commencement time.)
The humor and sly wisdom you expect from Sandra Boynton. A graduation classic second probably only to Oh, the Places You'll Go.
A sweet look at childhood’s milestones.
Maybe what you need in quarantine is a reminder that the wide world is full of adventures.
A self-possessed child (accompanied by a tiny pink pig) ponders a future where obstacles will be surmounted and dreams will come true. Gorgeous artwork..
Two rabbit frends collect things--buttercups, feathers, intangibles like the sound of the ocean. Then it turns out that one must move away. Wistful and appreciative.
Celebratory and sweet. A “universal donor” of a book--perfect for any age and any happy occasion.
26 words--such as ally, empathy, or respect--are elaborated upon with a poem, a quote from an inspiring person, a personal anecdote from the authors, and an activity to try. Thought-provoking and beautiful.
A novelist and etiquette columnist offers warm, wise, practical "pre-adulting" advice for tweens and teens.
COMING SOON 5/26/2020
Hand-lettered book of excellent inspirational quotes. Good for all ages.
A fable for all ages, pondering the universal questions. A beauty of a book in every way.
The granddaddy of contemporary commencement speeches (Kenyon 2005): “The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.”
J.K. Rowling’s commencement address (Harvard 2008) about creativity, failure, and turning points.
George Saunders’ speech (Syracuse 2013): "Err in the direction of kindness."
Jesmyn Ward’s commencement address (Tulane 2018) about tenacity and respect.
A comprehensive handbook for college grads who may not be fully furnished for Real Life.
An updated edition: The color photos are new; the superlative utility remains.