Graduates of all ages move on to the next level of life or school.  Here are some excellent books to inform, inspire or motivate for that special graduate in your life.  All of these are picture books and are good for all ages, unless specified.

You Matter, by Christian Robinson, has a dedication at the front of the book that sums up the theme of this brightly painted book: For anyone who isn’t sure if they matter. You do.  The illustrations, which were wonderfully done with acrylic paint and collage, stretch across the open pages.  The text is simple, yet powerful, in the message conveyed.  Sometimes home is far away. Sometimes someone you love says goodbye. Sometimes you feel lost and alone. But you matter.  Each sentence is proclaimed on a different open page.  And these pages are filled with color and recognizable design (such as an apartment building or a large oak tree).  The repetitive theme throughout is the book title.

Homespun and Angel Feathers, by Darlene Young, is a collection of elegant poetry celebrating life among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  These poems include scripture references, odes to children at different ages, sickness, marriage, temple experiences and much more.  Poetry is one of my favorite genres because by celebrating our language through this medium, descriptive words seem to drip off each phrase like grapes on a vine.  Here’s one of my favorite parts of an eloquent poem entitled Utah Mormon: Let me get close / and you’ll hear the shiver / of juniper, the cricket’s dry thrum. I carry / a landscape in my blood, brown / haunted by green. You can connect with the author if interested in this small sized paperback: [email protected]

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Be Bold Baby!, by J. K. Rowling, andrichly illustrated by Alison Oliver, is a simple board book, yet powerful with the proclamations from the ingenious quotes of Rowling.  Some of these include: Be Persistent. You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve. Be Resilient. Failure means a stripping away of the inessential.

The Traveler’s Gift: A Story of Loss and Hope,by Danielle Davison, and gorgeously illustrated by Anne Lambelet, reclaims the importance of storytelling and passing on experiences.  A young boy loved hearing his seafaring father tell his stories when arriving back to port.  But one day he never came back and this sad event made the boy’s desire for stories shrivel up.  Then an old man arrived off a ship and spun many magical tales.  The more he spun, the longer and more colorful his beard became.  The boy’s life and purpose are about to change due to the majesty of this man’s storytelling.  The vibrant colors that fill every page begin and end on the end-pages!

Hurry Up! A Book About Slowing Down,by Kate Dopirak, and richly colored with mixed media by Christopher Silas Neal, begins with a young boy hurrying to get ready for school.  Then off he goes, in a hurry, to school.  His entire day is filled with hurrying until he suddenly stops!  This is when he begins to realize there is much to enjoy in life that you can’t – when scurrying everywhere.  The rhyming text and bright full open-page pictures are a delight.  Slow things down. Take a break. Look around, for goodness’ sake. The message is clear, and the story will likely be reread again and again and at a slow relishing pace.

Henry’s Night (Inspired by the Life of Henry David Thoreau), by D. B. Johnson and Linda Michelin, is another in this exemplary series featuring the kind and thoughtful bear.  Since he is unable to sleep, he goes outside on a moonlit walk searching for a whippoorwill.  As he journeys, he writes in a journal-type style throughout that is reminiscent of Thoreau.  Now I hear a pumper bird gulping water in the brook. Which way did the whippoorwill go? I ask. Woonk-ka-chunk, woonk-ka-chunk! It flew far from the village, the pumper bird tells me. There are etchings of small animals, feathers and even a star pattern up high.  The beautiful mixed-media illustrations and the journal entries will help all appreciate the classic writings of this 19th century author.  The other books in this series include: Henry Climbs a Mountain, Henry Works and Henry Builds a Cabin.

Disney Princess: Royally Fierce, by Brittany Rubiano and Erin Zimring, and brightly illustrated by Amy Mebberson, is a tribute to girls everywhere to be the best they can be.  Each page has an inspirational quote and on the opposite side showcases authentic pictures from famous animated Disney princess movies.  There’s Snow White prancing around her little animal friends. On the opposite page is: Whistle While You Work.  This small sized book makes a perfect gift for the graduate.

Where Happiness Lives, by Barry Times, and cleverly and brightly illustrated by Greg Abbott, is all about appreciating what you have and the home that you live in.  Three little mice live in different homes, each one a bit bigger than the last.  When the first mouse sees a larger home, and meets the second mouse, he now thinks little of his.  The rhyming text is simple yet full of meaning and a delight to read out loud making it perfect for ages three to six.  There is a strong message found at the back of the book along with a surprise when both mice meet the third mouse.  The flaps to open along the way, as well as the details found on each loving home, make this book a treasure!