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29 Great Books To Give At Graduation

by | Mar 29, 2024 | NPP Recommends, Graduation Gifts

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Do you know a soon-to-be grad? Gift these Great Books To Give At Graduation!

As a lover of books, the idea of giving a book at graduation is my favorite. There are so many great books to give at graduation. This list includes graduation book ideas for high school graduates and college graduates.

I love to wrap up useful gifts or money (or both) and include one of the following books. They are all great for different reasons. Another idea would be to gift one book from each category for a nice beginning to a young person’s library. There are best books for growth mindset, finances, relationships, and several more categories. These would be best in paperback or hardback so that the reader can highlight and make notes to themselves.

Great Books To Give At Graduation
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Note: Most of these would be great for high school or college graduation. The final category is books specifically for high schoolers

**This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see the full disclosure in the foot bar.

If you are looking for a great book to give at graduation…

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Finding inspiring books for graduates can be fun. Pick the category that you feel like you wish you had known more about when your were starting out.

I divided the books up into these loose categories. Some of them fit into more than one spot, but I tried to pick the one that I felt like was the best fit. Good luck finding great books to give at graduation. 

#1 Great Books To Give At Graduation: Finance Books

Finance (n): a term for the management, creation, and study of money and investments…

Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money

Practical information for all of your questions about money. This covers how to budget, save, dump debt and invest. You’ll also learn about insurance, mortgage options, marketing, and bargain hunting.

This is a great first book on finances, especially if there is no background knowledge.

How To Adult: Personal Finance for the Real World -Cousineau

The author has years of teaching personal finance in the high school classroom, as well as valuable life experience as a young professional. He introduces topics that are a little more in depth than Ramsey. This will help your graduate to jump-start their personal financial journey.

The Latte Factor: Why You Don’t Have to Be Rich to Live Rich -Bach

A parable that tells the story of Zoey, a twenty-something woman living and working in New York City. She is unable to make ends meet under a growing burden of credit card and student loan debt, working crazy hours at her dream job but still not earning enough. At her boss’s suggestion, she makes friends with Henry, the elderly barista at her favorite Brooklyn coffee shop.

Henry tells her about his “Three Secrets to Financial Freedom,” which are ideas she dismisses at first but she ultimately comes to appreciate. Over the course of a single week, Zoey discovers that she already earns enough to secure her financial future and realize her truest dreams—all she has to do is make a few easy shifts in her everyday routine.

Napkin Finance: Build Your Wealth In 30 Seconds Or Less -Hay

Author, Tina Hay struggled in college to keep up with classmates who had financial backgrounds in the banking world. In order to make sense of all the complex financial topics, she came up with sketches and infographics that helped her succeed in her studies

Knowing that two thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic financial literacy test, and nine in ten believe personal finance should become a required high school course, Tina wrote this book for the masses -to understand finance in a way that is fun and accessible.

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The Graduate Survival Guide: 5 Mistakes You Can’t Afford To Make In College -Oneal and Cruze

The Graduate Survival Guide will help students avoid financial mistakes that are often made in college. These would include saving and spending with a plan, avoid student loans and pay cash for college, and putting healthy financial habits into practice to keep out of debt.

The Graduate Survival Guide will give your student confidence and wisdom to avoid the most common financial mistakes.

#2 Great Books To Give At Graduation: Adulting Books

Adulting (v): to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown… (I think of it as the interim from young adults into the rest of their lives.)

Adulting : How to Become a Grownup In 535ish Steps -Brown

This is a funny, wise, and useful book. Based on Kelly Williams Brown’s popular blog, these 535ish steps make the scary, confusing “real world” approachable, manageable—and even conquerable. 

Almost Adulting: All You Need To Know To Get It -Rose

This book will help young adults to figure out things like dating in person, eating a balanced diet, how to dress like a grown-up, and hopefully “pass as a real, functioning, appropriately socialized adult“.

Your Turn: How To Be An Adult –Lythcott-Haims

A former Stanford dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising and author of the perennial bestseller How to Raise an Adult and of the lauded memoir Real American, Julie Lythcott-Haims has encountered hundreds of twentysomethings (and thirtysomethings, too), who feel they’re just playing the part of “adult,” while struggling with anxiety, stress, and general unease.

In Your Turn, Julie offers compassion, personal experience, and practical strategies for living a more authentic adulthood, as well as inspiration through interviews with dozens of voices from the rich diversity of the human population who have successfully launched their adult lives.

Being an adult, it turns out, is not about any particular checklist; it is, instead, a process, one you can get progressively better at over time―becoming more comfortable with uncertainty and gaining the knowhow to keep going.

All I Need to know I learned in Kindergarten -Fulghum

I loved this book! For years I had the poster that goes with this book in my classroom, and I never taught kindergarten. I then hung it in the basement where my kids played…


#3 Great Books To Give At Graduation: Humor Books

humor (n): a funny or amusing quality · jokes, funny stories, etc., of a particular kind · the ability to be funny or to be amused by things that are funny.

Graduation Mad Libs -Price

There are 21 “fill-in-the-blank” stories about final exams, the last day of school, and of course, graduation parties, this book is jam-packed with hours of fun. Mad Libs are always a fun family activity!

Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You’ll Never Hear -Hiaasen

My parents gave this one to my oldest son. It is great, and I have bought it for so many graduates since!

“This commencement address will never be given, because graduation speakers are supposed to offer encouragement and inspiration. That’s not what you need. You need a warning,” is how it begins…

Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Golden Book -Muldrow

Pulled from Little Golden Book favorites like The Poky Little Puppy, We Help Mommy, and many more classics, this new classic gives important lessons such as “Remember to stop and smell the strawberries,” “Don’t forget to enjoy your wedding,” and “Be a hugger”. It’s illustrated by Richard Scarry, Eloise Wilkin, Mary Blair, Garth Williams, and more. 

ABCs Of Adulthood: An Alphabet of Life Lessons -Copaken

26 genuine and funny bits of advice that are surprising at times, as well as sensible.

From “A is for Anger” through “Z is for Zzzzzzz,” each entry is paired with the authors’ photography of the matching alphabet letter to create a fun and unique gift.

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#4 Great Books To Give At Graduation: Good Habit Books

Good habits are those repetitive actions or behaviors you want to repeat. They have positive physical, emotional, or psychological consequences.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People -Covey

One of my boys had to read this book for a class. We had such great discussions as a family with this one!

This book presents a principle-centered approach for living with fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity—principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of life’s opportunities.

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Live… And Maybe The World -McRaven

On May 17, 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin on their Commencement day. Taking inspiration from the university’s slogan, “What starts here changes the world,” he shared the ten principles he learned during Navy Seal training that helped him through his naval training and long career.

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Rising Strong -Brown

Social scientist Brené Brown has ignited a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. Her pioneering work uncovered a profound truth: Vulnerability – the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome – is the only path to more love, belonging, creativity, and joy. After interviewing many people in many different walks of life, she realized that they are healthier because they have recognized the power of emotion, and they’re not afraid to lean in to discomfort.

#5 Great Books To Give At Graduation: Life Skills Books

Life skills are abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable humans to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of life.

How To Cook Everything: The Basics -Bittman

In this book the author reveals how easy it is to learn fundamental techniques and recipes. From dicing vegetables and roasting meat, to cooking building-block meals that include salads, soups, poultry, meats, fish, sides, and desserts, This cookbook shows what every home cook, particularly beginners, should know.

What you’re Really Meant To Do -Kaplan

This book gives a specific and actionable approach to defining your own success and reaching your potential. The author is a leadership expert and shares exercises and hacks for achieving success.

The Energy Bus:10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy -Gordon

Who knew that riding a bus could teach so many life lessons? I had to read this one for a teacher book club, and our entire focus group really enjoyed this book which is really a fable for how to approach life in a positive way.

When Things Aren’t Going Right, Go Left -Colagiovanni

A sweet picture book with ideas for the reader when everything seems to be going wrong. Leave this out on their bed, when you leave them at college.❤️

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#6 Great Books To Give At Graduation: Relationship Books

relationship (n); the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other

The Last Lecture -Pausch

A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture,” where professors are asked to consider their own death and to discuss what matters most to them.

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave–“Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”–wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think”)

Tuesdays With Morrie -Albom

I read this book years ago. It is wonderful. The relationship between Mitch and Morrie, the lessons, just the fact that they were able to rekindle such a wonderful connection…

The 5 Love Languages -Chapman

The 5 Love Languages is a practical guide to improve interactions within relationships. These tools and “languages” can be utilized in all sorts of relationships .

The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? -Warren

This is a book I also read years ago. It defines life from a Christian perspective, but answers so many questions that anyone might have. This will affect a person’s relationships with everyone and everything.

Throughout The Purpose Driven Life, Warren will teach you to spend time getting to know yourself and your creator in order to live your life to the fullest. This will help you to unlock your true purpose will also reduce your stress, simplify your decisions, increase your satisfaction, and, most importantly, prepare you for eternity.

The Tao of Pooh and Te of Piglet -Hoff

Winnie-the-Pooh has a certain way about him, a way of doing things that has made him the world’s most beloved bear, and Pooh’s Way, as Benjamin Hoff brilliantly demonstrates, seems strangely close to the ancient Chinese principles of Taoism. And as for Piglet, he embodies the very important principle of Te, meaning Virtue of the Small.

#7 Great Books To Give At Graduation: Carpe Diem Books

Carpe diem, often translated as ‘seize the day,’ a phrase used by the Roman poet Horace to express the idea that one should enjoy life while one can.

Year of Yes -Rhimes

With three children at home and three hit television shows, it was easy for Shonda Rhimes to say she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid -to do anything unfamiliar or new. And then, over a family dinner, her sister muttered something that woke her up: “You never say yes to anything.” 

Shonda knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her.

Wild -Strayed

My bookclub read this a few years ago, and I have seen the movie. I remember thinking that there was no way I could ever do this, but not only does Strayed do this amazing thing, she succeeds!

“At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone.”

1000 Places To See Before You Die -Schultz

This would be such a great book to give to a young person to have to make some travel dreams…

The world’s wonders, continent by continent: A trek through Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. Sri Lanka’s Hill Country. A sunrise balloon safari over the Masai Mara. Canyon de Chelly. The sacred festivals of Bhutan. The Amalfi Coast. Sailing the Mekong River. These places include: sacred ruins, coral reefs, hilltop villages, deserted beaches, wine trails, hidden islands, opera houses, wildlife preserves, castles, museums, and more.

Each entry tells why it’s essential to visit and includes hotels, restaurants, and festivals to check out. Then come the completely updated nuts and bolts: websites, phone numbers, prices, best times to visit.

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Enjoy Every Sandwich -Lipsenthal

As medical director of the famed Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Lee Lipsenthal helped thousands of patients struggling with disease to overcome their fears of pain and death and to embrace a more joyful way of living. In July 2009, Lee was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. As he navigated his diagnosis, illness, and treatment, he discovered that he did not fear death, and that even as he was facing his own mortality, he felt more fully alive than ever before.

This book gives so many practical tips and useable advice for living life to the fullest.

A Whack On the Side Of Your Head: How You Can Be More Creative -von Oech

A WHACK ON THE SIDE OF THE HEAD has been praised by business people, educators, scientists, and many more.

This fully illustrated and updated volume is filled with puzzles, anecdotes, exercises, metaphors, cartoons, questions, quotations, stories, and tips designed to systematically break through your mental blocks and unlock your mind for creative thinking.

Gmorning, Gnight: Little Pep Talks For Me and You -Miranda

Before he inspired the world with Hamilton and was catapulted to international fame, Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspiring his Twitter followers with words of encouragement at the beginning and end of each day. He wrote these original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry for himself as much as for others.

Gathering his very best from all that he had shared on Twitter (X), this book is a great touchstone for anyone who needs a quick lift.

I Wish You More -Rosenthal

I love this book! I have read this to each of my classes the last three years, ever since I came across it, at the end of each school year. The sentiment is so sweet, and perfect for any age.

This sweet and uplifting book is perfect for wishers of every age. This book of wishes is sure to bring positivity to all who read it.

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#7 Great Books To Give At Graduation: Specific for Going to College

Now You Tell Me: 12 College Students Give The Best Advice They Never Got -Scott

The book offers advice from many different perspectives. There is someone in this book to which every college freshman and parent can relate. Some of the chapters are skim-worthy and some are highlight-almost-every-line-worthy.

The Graduate Survival Guide: 5 Mistakes You Can’t Afford To Make In College -Oneal and Cruze

The Graduate Survival Guide will help students avoid financial mistakes that are often made in college. These would include saving and spending with a plan, avoid student loans and pay cash for college, and putting healthy financial habits into practice to keep out of debt.

This book will give your student confidence and wisdom to avoid the most common financial mistakes.

The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into In College-Cohen

The advice in this book is practical and realistic. It covers topics like the summer before college, move-in day, roommates,  Greek life, dating, drugs and alcohol, safety, health, and academics. It would be a great one to read over the senior year and discuss along the way!

The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook -Grimes, MD

The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook falls in the practical category. It is written in a conversational-style, that is never condescending. This book and a DIY First Aid Kit will be both read and used.

Dr. Grimes covers all sorts of college health issues and gives advice they can use in an emergency – like how to help a friend who has passed out from overindulging. She talks about every day issues like test anxiety, home sickness, the freshman fifteen, “something’s stuck in my eye,” as well as more serious issues like date rape, birth control pills, and “Is my stomach pain an appendicitis?” (We have been there on the appendicitis! See What To Do If  Your College Student Has a Medical Emergency for our experience and some advice.)

Steadfast: A College Girl’s Guide To Standing Firm -Allman

As a recent college graduate Tabitha Allman knows what it is like in college. She also knows that attending a Christian college does not shield young women from the realities of the world. She discusses how to handle homesicknesses, stress, feeling different and fitting in, helping a roommate who is having problems, setting appropriate boundaries, and dating. And she knows that dating on a Christian campus is a whole other thing than on most campuses because of the pressure to find a mate.

She jokes about how the “walk of shame” on a Christian campus is graduating without an engagement ring. This book is perfect for any of the graduates in your life who are attending a Christian college or any college.

Do Your Laundry Or You’ll Die Alone -Blades

Ok, I LOVE this book. So many great pieces of advice for all. In this seemingly ruder and ruder society, Blades encouragements are wonderful, funny, and sensible.

It contains 271 gems including #146: “Offer your seat to anyone older or less healthy than you. And occasionally to someone who made an inappropriate shoe choice” and #19: “Never put anything on the internet that you would not want to discuss in a job interview, on a first date, or with your mother.” She includes many encouragements to be kind to others, to cut them some slack, and how to truly make others feel good.

Knock: How To Open Doors and Build Career Relationships That Matter -Leder

College students and those who will need to network in their career need this book. Knock gives the why and how to building actual meaningful relationships. This book offers a practical and step by step approach that will be appreciated by college students as they seek career guidance, internships, and jobs.

Go to Class: How to Succeed at College This book is full of great advice from someone who knows -an experienced higher-ed professional who has seen and heard it all!

Final Thoughts about great books to give at graduation

I hope my list of books to give at graduation helps with these next few weeks full of high school and college-ending events. It’s an exciting time for our kids, and the books on this list will give them a head start with their new life!

I hope these suggestions help you find a great book to give at graduation!

A few more options:

Pearls of Wisdom -Bush

If God Gave Your Graduation Speech -Payleitner

175 Things To Do Before You Graduate College -Lake

Whatever You Are, Be A Good One -Congdon

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We would love to stay in touch!

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