Graduation Gifts: Best Graduation Books to Give Your Scholar

Graduation will be upon us in just a few months. Whether it is kindergarten (yes, we have graduations for our kinders), middle school, high school or college, books make thoughtful and memorable gifts for the grads.

My children love to read and treasure all of the books they have received. Over the years we have added books to their personal library that have provided hours of enjoyment and memories. A book is a timeless gift that can be reflected upon and passed down to family members. It’s nice to write a heartfelt message directly in the book to your graduate as a lasting memento.

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Some of our picks are serious and thoughtful, others are amusing and entertaining. Here are our top picks for timeless graduation books for your scholar:

1. The Last Lecture , by Randy Pausch. In this heartfelt book from Professor Randy Pausch he captures the background behind the “Last Lecture” that he presented at Carnegie Mellon University. That lecture became one of the most widely viewed videos on YouTube. Randy prepared this lecture and book with his own three children in mind, knowing they would grow up without him after he passed away far too young from pancreatic cancer. Randy’s book captures what every graduate should never forget – “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” A truly inspirational book that should be read at every life milestone.

2. Oh, the Places You’ll Go , by Dr. Seuss. This wonderful picture book has become a classic graduation gift for high school and college graduates. Its levity reminds the graduate not to forget their roots as a child and provides inspiration as they pursue their next “place” in this phase of their life. There is a new pop-up edition that was created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this book. If they had this book as a child – find their original copy to remind them how much they’ve already achieved.

3. The Right Words at the Right Time, by Marlo Thomas (Vols 1 & 2). A wonderfully easy read, these two books capture the wisdom from such luminaries as Steve Spielberg, Tom Brokaw and Muhammad Ali as well as 90 essays from “ordinary Americans” who were selected out of thousands of submissions in a national contest. All of the passages describe a critical juncture in each of their lives where the right words provided the courage and insight at the right time. Truly inspirational and uplifting, these two books can be read over and over whenever a pivotal moment requires reflection and courage.

4. Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom & Wishes, by Susan V. Bosak. This amazing book is a unique collaboration that took five years to create. 15 top illustrators have each produced a work of art that depicts a story about hopes and dreams. Revealing and insightful, Dream is a dazzling work of art that children and adults will treasure and escape to whenever they need a boost of inspiration.

5. How to Survive your Freshman Year, by hundreds of college sophomores, juniors and seniors who did. For the practical-minded grad, this is a great gift as they head off for college. Often witty and very insightful, this “how to” book offers great tips and wisdom on what to expect your first year at college. Parents of new college students will also benefit from reading this survival guide.

6. Malcolm Gladwell’s The Box Set (The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers), by Malcolm Gladwell. For the first time all three of Gladwell’s bestselling books are together in this classic box set. Whenever a spark of innovation or creativity is needed, reach for one of these books to provide incredibly keen insight into how people think. In “The Tipping Point”, Gladwell traces the root of that pinpoint instance when an idea or behavior moves through the motions and becomes that definable moment. “Blink” dissects the split second manner in which we think and make decisions that can be life altering. “Outliers” weaves you through the discovery of what makes the best and brightest people different. All of these books will provide tons of perceptive observations that will help jumpstart your grad when they need that spark of an idea.

7. Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom. This is a true story about Morrie Schwartz and his former student, Albom. Albom learns that Morrie has been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Albom, who is a well known sports writer, visits his former teacher and soon ends up seeing him regularly every Tuesday until his death. Even in his declining condition, Morrie imparts powerful yet simple words of wisdom that Albom beautifully captures. Every graduate will benefit from remembering what is truly important as they embark on the next chapter in their lives.

8. The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, by Steven Covey. With over 10 million copies sold, this book continues to be a practical guide on how to live your life to its potential. In this day and age where people are on Facebook more than they are face-to-face, this is a great check point to reality and getting back to the basic elements that every successful person possesses. Covey emphasizes that in order to achieve these habits one must be prepared to make a paradigm shift in their thinking and behavior.

9. Eats, Shoots and Leaves, by Lynne Truss. This best-seller not only provides a witty guide to perfect punctuation, but is a humorous book that students of any age can benefit from. With all of the internet slang and twitter-molested writing, it is an art to learn how to properly form a meaningful sentence. Lynne’s book makes it entertaining and uniquely fun.

10. Personalized Photo Book (by you!) Whether you use Snapfish, Tiny Prints, Costco or Shutterfly, one of the best books you can create for your graduate is a one-of-a-kind photo album filled with images from birth to present day. They will truly treasure a book filled with memories of their childhood that you can subtitle and date so they will never forget the experiences that made them who they are today. Keep updating this at major milestones with new albums. This is truly a memorable and treasured gift that will be viewed for years to come.

All of these books are suitable for the high school or college graduate, or as a gift to mark a major milestone in someone’s life.

[Note, #2 and 4 make perfect gifts no matter what the age. The remainder of the books are suitable for middle, high school and college graduates.]

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