Books make some of the best graduation gifts. They allow you to get something thoughtful or funny, that can also impart wisdom, confidence, or advice for a child or friend as they embark on the next great journey of their life. And with a book gift, you can add a thoughtful inscription to turn it into a keepsake.
If you’re looking for gift ideas for a graduate, here are a few books to consider to make a meaningful gift for their graduation day. The books on this list are mostly geared toward high school graduates, but some of them would also be good for college graduates (check out essential books for college graduates for more recommendations).
Best Books for High School Graduates
Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
This is the perenial classic graduation book gift. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! is an inspirational send off for anyone starting a new phase of their life and makes a wonderful gift for a graduate. The unforgettable rhyming lines like:
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
But the book isn’t just about the good side, it also covers possible stumbles and failures ahead, all in Dr. Seuss’s humorous style. This is a special gift that marks graduation in a classic and meaningful way.
Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps
Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown is a book that works well for high school and college graduates. It’s a humorous look at that transition to adulthood that many people struggle with after high school. Brown’s approachable and fun prose actually gives important life lessons like what to check when renting a new apartment, how to find a non-shady mechanic, how to fix your toilet, and more.
This book is a great gift that combines fun and humor with important life lessons. Make a great gift for a parent or grandparent to a child who is just graduating and preparing to move out on their own.
You Are Doing a Freaking Great Job: And Other Reminders of Your Awesomeness
If you’re looking for a fun an inspiring gift, but you want something more unique or more adult than Oh, the Places You’ll Go, check out You Are Doing a Freaking Great Job. This book is about celebrating a big accomplishment and combines the work of over 20 artists and designers.
With 200 uplifting stories, quotes, and words of advice in the fun and quirky style of social media art, it’s the perfect gift to inspire a new graduate. The cover alone is a better congratulations message than most greeting cards.
Roadmap: The Get-It-Together Guide for Figuring Out What to Do with Your Life
This is one of the most practical books for high school graduates. Some students graduate high school with their life plan firmly plotted. Others aren’t quite sure what to do next. Roadmap is for those graduates still trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow-up. This New York Times Bestseller flips traditional career guides on their head and uses interests to help guide career decisions.
Utilizing interviews and advice from 130 people across the country, they show different paths to success and give real-world wisdom. The book is engaging with a unique style and full-color charts. Readers can take it to the next level, and use a free access code that comes with the book to watch videos of the interviews online. This is an immersive experience that will help guide a new graduate on a career path that they will truly love.
Happiness Is … 500 Ways to Be in the Moment
Happiness Is isn’t targeted to graduates–it’s a fun and inspiring book about mindfulness that makes a great gift for anyone. But we recommend it for graduates as well. After graduation there are big changes ahead, whethers it’s starting full-time work for the first time, moving away from home, starting college, or all of the above. This book reminds you to slow down and be in the moment.
This book is a great gift for high school graduates as it will remind them to look around and appreciate each moment of their life, not just the big milestones. The book’s charming and friendly tone, coupled with cute illustrations make it a fun gift and a great introduction to mindfulness.
1001 Things Every College Student Needs to Know
If your high school graduate is college bound, there are a ton of new experiences ahead for them in the next few months. That first transition from living at home to moving across the state (or the country) and being on your own for the first time can be a shock for many students. This book helps to ease that transition a little by providing 1001 Things Every College Student Needs to know. Author Harry H. Harrison Jr. uses humor to provide the basics any high school graduate or new college student will need to be successful in college. If your teen hates to read, they’ll actually find this book to be fun and approachable. The advice is concise and presented in a witty way they will enjoy.
If you’re a parent buying this for your own graduating child, this book also works really well as a tool to start conversations and help you give them advice. This book covers topics from dealing with roommates to picking classes and majors as well as doing homework, reading, and studying. This book makes a great gift and a great overview to prepare any college student.
The Everything College Cookbook
Many books for high school graduates focus on celebrating the accomplishment of graduating. If you want to think a little bit outside the box or provide a useful gift at the Graduation Party that isn’t just a gift card, check out this book. The Everything College Cookbook is designed for young people who are living on their own for the first time and don’t have the convenience of a meal plan. For most high school graduates, their cooking experience is nuking a Hot Pocket in the microwave or reheating leftovers from something Mom or Dad cooked. They won’t have that luxury at college and you want to make sure your graduate doesn’t just default to fast food or ramen noodles.
This cookbook contains 300 recipes target specifically at college students. That means they’re easy, quick to make, and affordable. They also don’t require any fancy equipment as many can be made with a hot plate or a microwave. If your student is moving into an apartment with a regular kitchen, there’s plenty of recipes to help them utilize an oven as well. This book is great for teaching basic cooking skills and hopefully inspiring your students to get some variety in their diet.
Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School?
High school classes cover history, math, and science, but budgeting and personal money management classes are often missing from the schedule. If you’re looking for practical books for high school graduates, Why Didn’t They Teach me This in School? helps bridge the knowledge gap for personal money management.
Written by business executive Cary Siegel originally to give advice to his children as they entered adulthood, this book has quickly become a favorite of parents looking to give their kids a little financial knowledge as they enter adulthood. Written to be easily read with memorable anecdotes both teens and young adults will enjoy this crash course in personal finances. This makes a great gift for high school and college graduates alike.
Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone: Advice Your Mom Would Give if She Thought You Were Listening
If you’re worried these practical books for high school graduates aren’t fun enough to give as a gift, here’s one that combines that practical knowledge with some fun in a humorous book gift. Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone presents the advice mothers want to give their nearly adult children, but knows they will roll their eyes and never listen to it. Writer and artist Becky Blades decided to write this as a common sense guide for teens to help assuage her own fears of her oldest daughter moving out on her own. The advice is well rounded from the practical (separate your laundry by colors) to the sentimental (keep one stuffed animal) to the hilarious (a bad attitude makes your butt look big). The pages of advice are punctuated with gorgeous art by Blades that makes this a beautiful gift.
This book is a perfectly sized book gift, just begging for a thoughtful inscription from a mother preparing to let their child venture out into the world on their own. This book is also a fantastic conversation starter for parents who want to sit down with their kids before they leave home and shares some of their advice, experience, and even regrets from their college years.
Almost Adulting: All You Need to Know to Get It Together (Sort Of)
This book is a little bit different from the other ones on this list. In fact, in may be the most “millennial” of all the books because Almost Adulting is written by vlogger Arden Rose. This is the kind of gift an older sibling or cool aunt or uncle would buy for a high school graduate, filled with the kind of advice that most parents aren’t stressing about. The advice in this book covers modern topics like online dating, sex, and mental health. It also hit some of the basics like having to buy your own groceries and decorating your first apartment.
This gift works well for high school graduates and also college grads transitioning into their own adult life. Since it’s written by a millennial for burgeoning adults, it makes a very enjoyable read and feels less preachy or stuffy than some of the other practical advice books on this list. That means the graduate might actually read it!
Once you pick out the perfect book to give, don’t forget to add a memorable and meaningful book inscription to turn it into a precious keepsake for the graduate.
If you’re buying a gift for a graduate who loves to read, get them a unique bookmark to go with their graduation gift.