Growing Reader

14 Great Gift Books for Kindergarten Graduates

by Iva-Marie Palmer

Photo credit: Ron Chapple, The Image Bank/Getty Images

It seems like just yesterday our kindergartner was off to his first day of real-deal school and somehow — isn’t time a wondrous thing? — the year is now drawing to a close.

Whether the kindergartner in your life has a graduation day at school or you want to commemorate the occasion at home, gifting one of these reads is a sweet way to say, “Great start!”

  • Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

    by Dr. Seuss

    Seuss’s picture book is probably one of the most oft-quoted in high school graduation ceremonies, but its biggest fans start young. Urging children to reach for great heights and see great sights, the master of humorous verse offers readers the perfect guide for navigating the ups and downs of all life’s adventures.

  • Oh, the Places I’ll Go! By ME, Myself

    by Dr. Seuss

    This fill-it-in-themselves book — illustrated in the style of Oh, the Places You’ll Go! — is filled with simple writing activities, mazes, images for kids to complete, and prompts for children to think about exactly where they want to go and what they want to do in life. It’s a great gift when paired with the original Dr. Seuss book, plus there’s room to write down some grown-up advice for young grads.

  • I Knew You Could

    by Craig Dorfman, illustrated by Cristina Ong

    After the determined little engine makes it over the mountain, she realizes life’s adventures have only just begun. From high mountaintops to dark and scary tunnels, the train keeps moving forward through life’s many ups and downs. With its positive message on confidence and perseverance, this delightful little book is an inspiring guide to life for graduates of all ages.

  • An Awesome Book

    by Dallas Clayton

    It seems unlikely that anyone “gets” kids the way professional child-at-heart Dallas Clayton might. In this colorful and inspiring read, the author’s zany illustrations urge children to never lose sight of their dreams (especially their wildest ones).

  • Junie B. Jones Is a Graduation Girl

    by Barbara Park, illustrated by Denise Brunkus

    Junie B. is very excited to graduate kindergarten — so excited that she just can’t help modeling her bright white cap and gown for her stuffed animals. Then disaster strikes in the form of some spilled grape juice! Can she fix her gown before graduation day? Equal parts humorous and heartfelt, kids will love moving up to first grade right alongside Junie B. Jones!

  • What Do You Do with an Idea?

    by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom

    Do you ever feel that if there is any one hope you could have for your kids, it’s that they’ll nurture the ideas about which they’re most passionate, not shying away from working toward their goals even if other people don’t quite understand it? This inspiring, sweet read is about just that — making our dearest ideas grow.

  • I Wish You More

    by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

    We’re always wishing happiness for our children, perhaps above all else. In this book, endless good wishes are heaped upon the reader, and each wish is one kids will need as they set off into the world. Curiosity, joy, friendship, laughter, peace — truly a lot of wishes we could all benefit from having granted from time to time.

  • The Wonderful Things You Will Be

    by Emily Winfield Martin

    Reminiscent of Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, this charming picture book invites young readers to imagine all the possibilities for their future. Martin’s lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations are a beautiful celebration of what makes every child special in their own way.

  • Beautiful Oops!

    by Barney Saltzberg

    As the pressure on children’s academics increases, a nasty beast called perfectionism can rear its ugly head. In Beautiful Oops!, kids get to see why mistakes don’t have to be bad. In fact, with the right mindset, what seems like the worst mistakes can actually be turned into the best new things!

  • Press Here

    by Hervé Tullet

    School doesn’t get any easier as it goes on, and as kids get more and more homework and responsibilities, it’s important they remember the captivating power of play — the kind that happens without a screen or a video game controller. Tullet is a master of this, providing interactive pages that call kids to creative action. It’s a nice respite from the structure and rules that become more commonplace as the school years continue.

  • Won Ton and Chopstick

    by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

    Told in haikus, this book is an awesome introduction to poetry — which we can all use more of in our lives! But even more useful to kids is the way it shows the growth of an unlikely friendship. Inscribe it with a note encouraging children to always be open to forming new bonds, a lesson they’ll surely need as their worlds expand.

  • The Night Before First Grade

    by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Deborah Zemke

    Moving up from kindergarten can be a bit scary, but this cheery little picture book can help calm those back-to-school jitters. Follow Penny as she goes through her first day of school, offering soon-to-be first-graders a glimpse of what to expect.

  • My Pen

    by Christopher Myers

    Told from the perspective of a child who feels small compared to the so-called “giants” of the world — the rich, famous, and powerful — My Pen isn’t just about the possibilities that emerge when a child starts to draw, but the possibilities when a child starts to dream. When given accompanied by a pen and notebook, Myers’s imaginative voyage is the perfect gift.

  • Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Life

    by Kimberly and James Dean, illustrated by James Dean

    Chances are good that your kindergartner already knows who Pete the Cat is, but have they ever heard words of wisdom from Albert Einstein, Confucius, Abraham Lincoln, and other luminaries? Grown-ups will love these inspirational reminders (and the chance to discuss them with kids). Meanwhile, kids will appreciate the chance to share big thoughts, while also enjoying Pete’s cool and clever responses to great thinkers.

Which books would you recommend as kindergarten graduation gifts? Let us know in the comments below!