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Keepsake Picture Books for Graduates

Graduation season is upon us!

This is a wonderful time to share the magic of picture books with a person of any age who may be embarking on a new adventure. This collection of books is perfect for instilling confidence, affirming identity and self-worth, and encouraging people to enjoy the journey, and not just the destination.

For many years, it’s been a tradition for caregivers to give the well-known classic, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, to new graduates and have educators write personalized messages directly among the pages of this story. When educators do this year after year, it creates an incredible keepsake for children who enjoy revisiting and rereading all the words of encouragement.

Though we love this tradition, we challenge you to think beyond this famous book and welcome a new and uplifting story into your collection.

We believe that these powerful and inspirational books are perfect for graduates of all ages! For our complete list of recommended books, visit our Bookshop page.

What the Road Said

Author: Cleo Wade | Illustrator: Lucie de Moyencourt | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

What the Road Said is a beautiful story about the ups and downs of life's journeys. Wade’s thoughtful and poetic words reinforce how there will always be challenges and low points, and also victories and joyous highs. Look to the people who help, who support and uplift, and strive to be that type of person for yourself and someone else. This book is both comforting and encouraging - reminding us that sometimes, the most important thing we can do in life is just keep going.

What Will You Be?

Author: Yamile Saied Mendez | Illustrator: Kate Alizadeh | Publisher: HarperCollins

What Will You Be? is a quintessential book about the age-old question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” In this story, a young girl allows herself to consider what is possible for her future, and luckily, has her abuela to help.

With the loving guidance of her abuela, the young child is able to dream up a future with limitless possibilities. This book is a wonderful celebration of growth, curiosity, love and family.

What Would You Do in a Book About You?

Author: Jean Reidy | Illustrator: Joey Chou | Publisher: HarperCollins

What Would You Do in a Book About You? encourages people to dream big and imagine the stories they want to tell in their lifetime. It’s a rhythmic and fun story to read aloud and the perfect book to inspire others to follow their dreams!

The Magical Yet

Author: Angela Diterlizzi | Illustrator: Lorena Alvarez| Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Many of our favorite books build children up, and help them develop a healthy sense of self and others. The Magical Yet will help any child who struggles with not being able to do something yet. It is a whimsical book that helps children see the value of effort and persistence.

This book is a great gift for graduates of any age because it helps us refocus on what matters most - the journey, and not the destination.

You Are a Beautiful Beginning

Author: Nina Laden | Illustrator: Kelsey Garrity-Riley | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

You Are a Beautiful Beginning is a magical story that is both deeply affirming and wholly uplifting. It is a wonderful story for discussing friendship, community, self-love and potential. This book showcases inclusive characters, and is full of lively and whimsical illustrations. You Are a Beautiful Beginning reminds us that we are all worthy of living joyful and passionate lives.

Child of Galaxies

Author: Blake Nuto | Illustrator: Charlotte Ager | Publisher: Flying Eye Books

This is a delightful story that showcases the interconnectedness of people and the natural world. It celebrates the beauty, wonder and joy that comes with simply being alive. The colorful and whimsical illustrations authentically represent the diversity of people, and help to make this book feel like a cozy hug. Like a star shining so bright, it also encourages you to take your time while living and soak in all the most magical parts.

Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem

Author: Amanda Gorman | Illustrator: Loren Long | Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

“In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes—big or small—in the world, in their communities, and most importantly, in themselves.

With lyrical text and rhythmic illustrations that build to a dazzling crescendo by #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long, Change Sings is a triumphant call to action for everyone to use their abilities to make a difference.”

The Sun, the Moon and the Stars

Author: Rachel Montez Minor | Illustrator: Annie Won | Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

“In simple rhyme with a universal message, this book celebrates diverse children, their power to inspire those around them, and the invisible bonds of family and humanity that can never be broken.

Readers are encouraged to shine their light and positivity on those around them and to always lift each other up. We are all one, living together on our planet, connected under the sun, the moon, and the stars.”

Little Wonder

Author/Illustrator: Claire Keane | Publisher: Chronicle Books

“A love letter from a mother to her child accompanies him on a journey of unbelievable fantasies. It's a day full of breathtaking adventures, exciting twists and turns, and unexpected friends. With an imagination stronger than the tide and a mama's love deeper than the ocean, Little Wonder can do anything he believes he can.

And he will!

The positive messaging of this book, its gorgeous marine setting, and the gentle, reassuring narration will resonate with parents, grandparents, and children alike, with the universal appeal of undersea adventures setting all imaginations on fire. Adults will be attracted to the book's encouragement of open-mindedness and determination in the face of uncertainty, and kids will love the lush illustrations and call to fantastical adventures.”


Author/Illustrator: Nilah Magruder | Publisher: Versify

All the animals that Wutaryoo meets know their origin story, so when she becomes frustrated that she doesn’t know hers, Wutaryoo sets off on an adventure to learn about her ancestry. Her journey takes her to far away places where she meets all types of creatures - it is not until she returns home that she realizes she is in control of her own story. This is the perfect contemplative tale about what’s possible when you find your own truth.


Author/Illustrator: Derek Desierto | Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

This is an important and celebratory book that will help anyone who has ever felt different, feel seen and appreciated for exactly who they are. On life’s journey, everyone is bound to feel like the “oddbird” at some point - but in this triumphant book, we learn that there’s always a way to find your place just as you are.


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