Graduation time is upon many ages of kids and adults.  Kids could be graduating from kindergarten, elementary school and all the way to high school and college.  This is a terrific time to give books for encouragement, guidance, motivation and direction.  The first four are picture books that are good for ages four through eight.  The rest are good for ages nine through adult, unless otherwise indicated.

Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon, by Patty Lovell, and wonderfully illustrated in pencil, watercolor and ink by David Catrow, is the third book with Molly becoming stronger, better and happier through life.  This book addresses dealing with others that try to bully and diminish you in every way.  Molly uses her voice and speaks up for anyone who might need your help.  There are some tremendous lessons to learn from in this book that will benefit children.  The illustrator has a brilliant signature style that emanates perfectly in his other two books as well: Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon and Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon.

You Are Enough, by Margaret O’Hair, and brightly colored by Sofia Cardozo, and inspired by eleven-year-old Sofia Sanchez, celebrates your life of who you are.  It does not matter the color of your skin, where you live or what you can or cannot accomplish.  What is important is embracing what makes you different.  This message of encouragement, and loving who you are, is presented throughout the book.

Be You!, by Peter H. Reynolds, reads like an advice book but is written and brightly illustrated in a kid-friendly style. So, in other words, the text is short and to the point, but written in different directions and interestingly. There is a different child proclaiming how to be you on every open page.  I especially like how Mr. Reynolds emphasizes each word of how to be you in different colors. Be curious. Be adventurous. Be persistent.

In My Life, by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and beautifully painted by Genevieve Santos, is based on The Beatles’ famous song with lyrics that seem to sing off the page.  But the majesty of the song rings true to life as you turn the pages and see a young girl pedal her bike through her day and her mother follows as she explores life.  It’s actually a love letter to life. Though, I know I’ll never lose affection / For people and things that went before / I know I’ll often stop and think about them / In my life I’ll love you more.

Aesop’s Fables, retold by Susie Brooks, and brightly illustrated by Amanda Enright, is set in an over-sized book with large text and full-page pictures.  These classic tales never grow old and are perfect for any graduate to glean from the tremendous morals taught throughout.  Some of the retold stories include: The Hare and the Tortoise, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse and The Lion and the Mouse.  This book is good for all ages.

A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austin Discovered Her Voice, by Jasmine A. Stirling, and gorgeously illustrated with both sides of the open page by Vesper Stamper, is an inspiring picture book briefly showcasing a genius who knew how to tell a story.  This wonderfully told story shows how Austin desired to tell how life was as she wove her interesting characters and as her stories progressed.  The art impressively reflects a time two hundred years ago and adds to this notable book.  This book should entice and enlighten the storyteller child in your family.

How to Build a Story…or The Big What If, by Frances O’Roark Dowell, and illustrated by Stacy Ebert, is absolutely the perfect book for your budding author!  The way Dowell has broken down the creative writing process is easy to grasp, fun and very entertaining.  Dowell will keep you reading clear to the end with her fun and humorous antidotes while keeping everything in perspective, like editing, effort and practice!  And the fun illustrations keep it all light and interesting.  This should be a mandatory handbook for story creations!

365 Words Everyone Should Know, by Lauren Holowaty, and delightfully illustrated in shades of black by Martina Motzo, is filled with many new and perhaps unknown words.  There are peculiar words backed with the history behind them and words that are hard to pronounce.  There are even words with double meanings.  This pocket-size paperback is the perfect book to travel with and enlighten you along your way.

Grasping Mysteries: Girls who loved Math, by Jeannine Atkins, celebrates six amazing women who used math to pursue their passion in astronomy, hospital care, oceans and statistics.  The author does a magnificent job showcasing these spectacular women and showing their challenges and pitfalls along the way, describing how they were persistent and never gave up even with great odds.  Their curiosity through numbers helped keep them on track.  This is the perfect book (with 300 pages) for kids who have a strong link, interest or ability with numbers.