Tween

Oh, The Places They’ll Go!
12 Gift Books for Elementary School Graduates

by Tom Burns

Photo credit: Swell Media, UpperCut Images/Getty Images

Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go! is probably the most famous graduation gift book in history. For decades parents have been gifting copies at school graduation ceremonies, ranging from kindergarten all the way to college, because it couldn’t be more perfectly suited for the occasion. It’s the gold standard, for sure.

But that doesn’t mean it’s the only great graduation book — there are many other tremendous titles about moving onward and upward that are ideally suited for celebrating your child’s big graduation day, particularly their elementary school graduation. Because, make no mistake, moving from elementary to middle school is a BIG DEAL.

So, if you want to reward your fifth or sixth grade reader with a terrific book for their elementary send-off — and if your relatives have already bought them a copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go! — here are 12 perfect, age-appropriate gift books to mark the occasion.

  • Seuss-isms

    by Dr. Seuss

    For the kid who has grown up reading Dr. Seuss, this book is a wise and wonderful trip down memory lane. A collection of illustrations and Seuss snippets pulled from his most beloved titles, Seuss-isms offers life advice on topics like growing up, success, and love. Add a personal touch to this gift book by having family and teachers write in their own special advice for the graduate.

  • The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

    by Laura Shovan

    Many of the other books on this list offer optimistic wishes or funny sentiments on the occasion of a school graduation, but this soulful, perceptive wonder takes another approach, instead trying to capture the real emotions, aspirations, and anxieties of a group of fifth graders who just found out their beloved elementary school will be closing after they end their year — making them the school’s LAST-ever fifth grade class. Shovan’s text takes the form of a poetry journal the students keep throughout the school year, and their verses, all composed in distinct voices, speak volumes about each kid’s concerns about moving on to middle school. If your kid has poetry in their soul, this is the graduation book for them.

  • Graduation Mad Libs

    by Roger Price

    Looking for a light-hearted and silly gift for your graduate? Mad Libs are word-filled fun! From commencement speeches to party time, your new graduate will love filling in the blanks and cracking up at the hilarious stories.

  • Last Day Blues

    by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Judy Love

    If your elementary school grad is REALLY attached to their teacher, they’ll definitely connect with this sweet, good-humored picture book about a class that’s worried sick over how much their teacher, Mrs. Hartwell, will miss them after they leave for the summer. It’s a fun read acknowledging the emotions that surface at the finish of a school year, and a nice reminder that teachers have lives beyond their classrooms as well.

  • Rad Girls Can

    by Kate Schatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl

    Commemorate their most recent of many more accomplishments with Rad Girls Can, a compendium of fifty stories about girls and young women who made a remarkable difference in the world by the time they turned twenty. Featuring familiar names like Anne Frank and Misty Copeland paired with names we should all learn — like Trisha Prabhu, who invented an anti-cyberbullying app — this collection inspires both big ideas and everyday heroics.

  • The Golden Compass Graphic Novel, Complete Edition

    by Philip Pullman

    There are few literary worlds as engrossing as those that Philip Pullman created in his Golden Compass trilogy, and now young readers can fully immerse themselves in Lyra’s epic journey through the full-color graphic novel adaptation that contains all three volumes in one. Visually stunning and accessible without losing any of Pullman’s masterful storytelling, this book sets an appropriately adventurous tone for young readers looking to the next step of their journeys.

  • Flights of Fancy

    by Various

    Now’s the perfect time to fan the flames of your child’s creativity, and who better to encourage young writers and artists than some of the most legendary authors and illustrators in today’s children’s literature scene? In this exciting anthology, readers learn tips from the likes of Quentin Blake (the illustrator of Roald Dahl’s books), Lauren Child (of Charlie and Lola fame), and more. Show your graduate just how much you admire their creative spirit!

  • Positively Pooh: Timeless Wisdom from Pooh

    by A. A. Milne

    For fans of the infinitely lovable Pooh Bear (which is to say, all of us), give them the gift of the timeless wisdom gathered in Positively Pooh. Titles like “For When You’re in a Tight Spot” and “For Those Bothersome Days” evoke the classic, unflappable mindset we all know and love, and the original quotes and whimsical illustrations come together with the comfort of a hot cup of tea — or a warm jar of honey, whichever you prefer.

  • Calling All Minds

    by Temple Grandin

    In Calling All Minds, world-famous inventor and autism advocate Temple Grandin invites young readers to approach the world with a curious mind, a perpetual sense of wonder, and a willingness to fail — and then try again, with an extra oomph of imagination. With twenty-five project ideas, fascinating stories from Grandin’s life, and scientific facts they won’t believe, this book is a cleverly disguised guide to living that will steer new grads toward a path of success.

  • Puffin Hardcover Classics Box Set

    by Various

    A glorious box set fit for the most auspicious of occasions, this Puffin Hardcover Classics collection is an elegant token for the sophisticated reader (I use that adjective lightly). Including six childhood favorites — A Little Princess, Anne of Green Gables, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Secret Garden, The Wind in the Willows, and Peter Pan — the neatly bound spines evoke those hallowed halls of middle school that await after another long, book-filled summer.

  • Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life

    by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, illustrated by Laura Park

    Admit it: The title alone makes this a hysterically funny gift option for your nervous elementary graduate, especially if you want to joke with them a little. But, beyond the torture benefits, your child will love reading about Rafe Khatchadorian’s struggle to “win” his fight against Hills Village Middle School and its sinister Code of Conduct. Reluctant readers will particularly adore this chapter book (the first in a popular series) for its skewed look at post-elementary life.

  • Only One You

    by Linda Kranz

    As a parent, it can be awkward to try to sit a child down and pass along all the knowledge and advice you wish someone had told you at their age. Fortunately, picture books like Only One You act as tremendous conversation starters for such occasions. Kranz accomplishes this by creating a beautiful, folk-art-inspired underwater world where two rockfish parents decide their eager son Adri could use a little inspiration. They offer up the kind of sage wisdom any parent would be proud to pass along on their kid’s elementary school graduation day — or any other day, for that matter.