A book is a classic graduation gift. Whether your celebrated alum has chosen further education or is beginning their search for a career, there is a perfect book for everyone!
The typical books that come to mind for graduation gifts are often filled with inspirational quotes or practical (and sometimes witty!) advice. My own dear grandmother gave me one such book for my high school graduation that is still special to me today because she inscribed the front with her familiar, beloved handwriting.
There are different types of books that can be given to help guide, encourage, or inspire young adults in whatever the next stage of their life might include. I think you may even find a few surprise options on this list!
1. Adulting and Advice
There are plenty of books to help a new graduate navigate through the new life ahead, with advice on everything from making hard decisions to making new friends. But I have narrowed the recommendations to 3 books that have excellent reviews, one of which I just finished reading myself and casually left on my teenage daughter’s bed; thankfully she appreciated my (not-so) subtle suggestion.
Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven. The author of this book is a retired Navy seal, and it is based on his inspiring graduation speech at The University of Texas in 2014. This book humbly boasts 10 life principles to help overcome life’s storms and challenges, and how to achieve success in everyday life.
Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy. When I first heard of this book years ago, it sounded pretty gross, but you know what they say: “Never Judge a Book by its Cover…” and so it goes with this gem of advice. The idea is that if you eat a frog first thing in the morning, it should be the worst thing you’ll have to do all day. And if you get your most difficult task of the day finished first, it’s all downhill from there. And this book is all about how to stop procrastinating and start organizing each day for productivity and success!
Atomic Habits by James Clear. I just finished reading this book myself (the one I passed along to my daughter), and I have to say it was fantastic! It is a simple read, but practical enough to leave a lasting impression. It’s all about making small changes to create lifelong habits for everything and anything you could want to accomplish: exercise, mastering an instrument, improving study techniques, eating healthy, saving money, etc. The four laws presented in this book are an attainable way to make lasting changes, perfect for a graduate (or a graduate’s mom too!)
I have often heard that reading poetry is therapeutic for the soul and the writer. It improves writing technique and broadens the scope of imagination and perspective. I know the first person to recommend reading a poem a day was my 9th grade English teacher, but I did not fully appreciate the practice until recently.
Poetry has a way of making you slow down and appreciate things in a new light. All that to say, perhaps a Poem Anthology, like one of the books listed below, would be a great way to encourage any graduate to instill this practice early on!
Poem A Day: Volume 1: 366 Poems, Old and New edited by Karen McCosker and Nicholas Albery. This is a wonderful anthology of classical and contemporary poetry with 366 poems for daily reading throughout the year.
A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year edited by Jane McMorland Hunter. Another collection of classic poetry but this one is specific to nature poems. Think: Robert Frost’s “Spring Pools” or Christina Rosetti’s “A Year’s Windfalls.’’ It is the perfect way to start the day before classes or to quiet your mind at the end of a long day.
For most graduates, this is their first venture into all things adulthood. And besides books encouraging further academic education, any young adult fresh from their parents’ nest could probably use a little help in how to make their own meals! Why not give a beginner cookbook to the graduate? And maybe include a giftcard to a local grocery store in their new hometown.
The 5-Ingredient College Cookbook: Easy, Healthy Recipes for the Next Four Years & Beyond by Pamela Ellgen. This is a great beginner’s guide to cooking with minimal ingredients with helpful tips on stocking your first kitchen and pantry.
College Cooking for One: 75 Easy, Perfectly Portioned Recipes for Student Life by Emily Hu. This is another great option for a beginner’s cookbook with easy recipes and helpful tips on keeping your meals healthy and budget-friendly.
4. Adult Coloring Books
For the artistic student, an adult coloring book is a fun way to bring arts and crafts with you to college. Or, like many adults have recently discovered, it is a relaxing way to unwind and decrease stress after a hectic day… or week… or semester. There are limitless options and designs to choose from. Add a set of good fine-point colored markers for the perfect gift!
100 Magnificent Mandalas by Special Art. With 100 intricate patterns and designs, a college student will be able to take a break from “adulthood” for a moment and enjoy the comfort and nostalgia of coloring in a coloring book.
52 Words: An Inspirational Coloring Book with the Power and Potential to Change Your Life! By Karla Dornacher. Each coloring page in this book features an inspirational word with a Bible verse reference at the bottom of the page. This is a beautiful way to reflect on a special word and its meaning and find few moments for prayer as you color.
College Football Team Logos Coloring Book by Budd Owens. Just in case the graduate is a sports enthusiast who might appreciate a less flowery way to unwind!
I know we have smartphones, iPads, and computers that are more than capable of keeping our calendars all in one convenient place. But there is still something helpful in having a tangible planner to handwrite important dates, upcoming events, daily to-do lists, and longterm goals. Studies have shown that there are still many benefits to writing down our plans: including a better chance of remembering them!
Daily Planner, Calendar and Gratitude Journal by the Power Place Store. This vegan leather bound planner is a great place to keep track of your schedule! Students can plan out their week, keep track of their goals, and write down their daily schedules in this daily planner. There are no dates in this planner so it can start at any date and go on for 6 months of organized planning!
PLANBERRY Weekly Schedule Planner by PLANBERRY. This spiral bound journal-like planner is sure to keep students organized and task oriented. And it comes with stickers to make the calendar aesthetically pleasing as well!
Perfect Grad Gift
Any of these books are a perfect gift for a graduate, and can be coupled with gift cards or a cash gift if you would like to give something extra. For more graduation gift ideas for every budget, check out this post (where you will find that we have also recommended one these same books again, so you know it MUST be good!) And if you need graduation party planning inspiration, check out our ideas for how to throw a graduation party in 5 Easy Steps.