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New Beginnings:
20 Inspiring Books for Mighty Girl Graduates

Posted on May 5, 2017 by Katherine

Our top picks of inspiring books for Mighty Girl graduates from preschool to college!

Whether it's from preschool or college, graduations mark important transitions in a child's or young person's life. If you know a Mighty Girl who is graduating this year, then in the middle of the flurry of school-end projects and graduation party planning, you’ve probably paused for a moment to reflect on the momentous change coming for both of you. Whether your Mighty Girl is going to be starting school full-time as a first grader or moving cross-country to attend college, you likely want to pass on some words of wisdom as she takes her first steps into this new stage of life.

One great way to do this is by giving her an inspiring book that praises her gifts, encourages her to achieve her potential, and reminds her that you will always be there when she needs you! With that in mind, we've collected some of our favorite inspiring books that are perfect for graduates. While the reading level of these books may be simple, like Dr. Seuss’ classic Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, the inspiring message of such books is truly universal. Each one will let your graduate know that a Mighty Girl can always find great things, wherever she may go!

Books for Mighty Girl Graduates

If I Could Keep You Little...

Sometimes parents think that it would be fun for their Mighty Girls to stay little — but the truth is that, as girls get older, it's far more fun to watch them try things on their own! After all, a baby's clothes may always match perfectly, but who can top the pride of the preschooler who dressed themselves in an innovative combination of polka dots and stripes? And for kids who are about to take the next big step into life, the book provides a sweet reminder: "If I could keep you little, I could keep you close to me. / But then I'd miss you growing into who you're meant to be!"

On The Night You Were Born

Nancy Tillman's debut picture book was an instant classic with its warm, welcoming story about the joy that every new arrival brings the world. Tillman's celebration of "the one and only ever you" invites participation by younger readers, with pauses for wiggling toes and other responses, but for older readers, the radiant pictures and message of love are sure to generate smiles.

Yay You! Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On

Many parents will recognize the distinctive style of Sandra Boynton’s illustrations from her books for young children. This book, on the other hand, was written for her own son’s graduation from high school, and Boynton deliberately intended it for all ages. Boynton still includes plenty of silliness — a yoga cow chanting “OOM”, a frog with an outboard motor on his lilypad — but in the midst of the fun is a loving message: whatever you decide to do with your life, the people who love you are proud. The first page includes a box labelled “Congratulations” with space for the giver and receiver’s names, making it easy to inscribe. Yay, You! is the perfect combination of sweetness and silliness for those who want a little extra fun in their grad gift.

Plant A Kiss

Rosenthal takes the phrase “to plant a kiss” and makes it literal when the Little Miss of this book plants a real kiss in the ground. After tending it carefully — lots of sunshine and water — a glittering sprout grows. Now Little Miss is going to share the kiss she planted with the whole wide world! This beautiful conceptual book about kindness, generosity, and love will remind your graduate that simple gestures can grow far beyond the giver — and that anyone can be the one to start something that leads to “eternal bliss.”


A mother and her daughter share everyday milestones in this book about the bond of love between parent and child. The pages are full of little moments in the maturation of a child — riding a bicycle, swinging higher than she’s ever dared — as well as the big ones — watching her leave the family home for her own life, seeing her brush her own child’s hair. And in the end, her mother reminds her, even decades from now when the daughter herself is old, she will always carry her mother’s love with her. Alison McGhee’s very personal writing and Peter Reynold’s simple, soft illustrations complement each other perfectly, and make this book a wonderful way to remind your daughter that you will always be a part of her life.

Love Is

When a little girl meets a lost duckling, it's love at first sight! The pair are soon inseparable, even when challenges come up — everything from midnight feedings to messes to resistance to bathtime. But as both girl and duckling grow, they realize there's something even more important to learn about love: that love means holding tight sometimes, but also letting go. This sweet book about growing up and the joys of offering and returning love will speak to both graduates and their parents and mentors.

The Wonderful Things You Will Be

From brave to creative to adventurous, Emily Winfield Martin's rhyme expresses all the loving things that parents think of when they look at their children. Martin encourages readers both young and old to be bold, kind, and clever, to take care of the things that others neglect and to help things grow to their fullest potential. With colorful illustrations that celebrate kids with diverse backgrounds and interests, this book is sure to become a classic.

The Dot

Vashti is sure she’s no artist, but her teacher is sure she could be: “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” Vashti’s jab at the paper makes an angry blot...but that mark becomes the beginning of so much more, as Vashti learns that creative spirit lives in everyone. Author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds wrote this story to remind children — and adults — that creativity and willingness to take a risk are attributes worth celebrating. For young adults, the story’s message that taking a chance is worth doing, even if it means accepting the possibility that things won’t work out, will take on new meaning as they take their first steps into their independent lives.


This book, full of simple text and minimalist art, might seem to be just a mathematical story, but in truth it teaches about finding value in others — and yourself. Zero thinks she is a nothing number: all the other numbers count, but big round Zero is just empty. While she tries to be like the other numbers, she realizes that nothing that she can do will make her anything other than zero. And eventually, she realizes that Zero can make the other numbers count even more. Kathryn Otoshi’s message about the value of being yourself and seeking your own strengths is very valuable for the new graduate, as is the reminder that, however important we are on our own, we accomplish more working together.

Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You

“I wanted you more than you’ll ever know, so I sent love to follow wherever you go...” So begins Nancy Tillman’s lovely tribute to the gift of love that parents give their children. As Tillman describes the depth and strength of a parent’s love, her mixed-media illustrations depict beautiful, vivid landscapes full of wild animal companions. Like Tillman’s debut picture book, On the Night You Were Born, this book is a favorite with children, but graduates and adults can draw new meaning from its message of constant, supportive love.

Blueberry Girl

Nationally bestselling author Neil Gaiman wrote this book for singer-songwriter Tori Amos when she was about to become the mother of a girl. In it, he writes a prayer for a blueberry girl, a beloved baby who grows into a daring young woman. Along the way, she will experience all of the joys and trials of life, with the wonders all the sweeter for the travels necessary. Charles Vess’ illustrations depicts girls of many ages and appearances, each one guarded by a protective animal as she explores her world. This poem is a beautiful wish for any girl starting a new journey.

Three Little Words

Today's graduates grew up with a little blue fish who reminded them to "just keep swimming" — and now you can urge her on in her new life with those same words of encouragement! Dory's three little words apply to all sorts of situations in Dory's world, and easily carry over into your graduate's. With cheerful, positive text, accented by beautiful watercolor illustrations based on the movie Finding Dory, it's the perfect choice to inspire graduates as they take their next big steps.

Keeping Climbing, Girls

Noted African American playwright Beah E. Richards wrote this ode to empowered girls in 1951, and this edition with illustrations by R. Gregory Christie makes it accessible to girls of all ages. Richards reminds girls everywhere that “the path of life goes up and up/not down!” and they’ll love watching the brave heroine reach her goal of climbing to the highest branch, while fretful Miss Nettie tries to coax, cajole, and bully her down. Richard’s vernacular poetry creates a distinctive voice and Christie’s strong, bold illustrations add even more depth through the body language of the characters. This inspiring message is sure to give your grad the confidence to reach for her next branch on her way to the top.


“When will I get There? How will I know?” A little girl looks on into the future, through fantastic imaginary landscapes of storms, rainbows, and ladders to the stars. There seems very far away, and yet she is confident that she can find it all by herself. Unlike many children’s authors, Fitzpatrick allows children to understand that some questions have no answer. Both her simple, subtle text and her soft, almost dreamy illustrations encourage quiet, questioning thoughts and contemplation — making it great for kids, but also giving it rich meaning to young adults who are about to set forth for their own There.

The Book of Mistakes

On an empty page an artist starts to create — and things don't work out exactly as planned. But amidst mistakes like one eye bigger than the other, or a weird frog-cow-cat...thing, or an inky smudge, this artist is able to see possibility. The eye may have been a mistake, but the glasses look great; the frog-cow-cat makes an excellent bush; and even the smudges can look like leaves floating across the sky. With simple, playful text, author/illustrator Corinna Luyken reminds readers young and old that "mistakes" can be the start of bright ideas — and that all of us are works in progress. It's the perfect reminder as she heads out for a new adventure.

Hooray for You! A Celebration of You-Ness

This book reminds every Mighty Girl that "there simply is no other like you"! This tribute to individuality urges readers to embrace their unique talents and gifts — after all, as author Marianne Richmond reminds everyone, "Millions were born, yet none filled your space." With its cheerful illustrations that celebrate diverse cultures, communities, and people, readers both young and old will enjoy finding hints of their own "you-ness" in its pages.

Mahalia Mouse Goes To College

Mahalia Mouse and her family live underneath Dunster House, an old Harvard dormitory — until one day, when Mahalia finds herself separated from her family and dumped in a lecture hall! The clever young mouse makes the best of things, figures out how to fend for herself, and even enrolls in classes. And when graduation day rolls around, Mahalia will get a degree — and a big surprise. Written as part of John Lithgow's keynote address at Harvard's 2005 commencement, this charming story full of wit and fun is sure to delight kids on their way to their own college adventure.

For A Girl Becoming

Rich art and symbolic poetry evoke the lessons of a girl’s life: birth, youth, and adulthood are all captured with text full of a sense of myth and wonder. Joy Harjo, a Mvskoke/Creek poet and writer, tells a story of a family and community gathered together to celebrate the girl’s arrival with love and adoration, but also advice and guidance. Mercedes McDonald’s colorful illustrations create a vivid environment full of meaning to be deciphered, and also evoke a connection to the cycles of the natural world. This beautiful book will speak to anyone standing at the threshold of becoming something new.

My Prudent Advice: Lessons for My Daughter

The advice Mom has to pass on to her daughter is hard-won and comes with long experience. Sometimes, though, it probably seems to her like she has too many things to tell her daughter. How does she know which are most important? In this journal, prompts on topics ranging from family to love to travel to finding your passion will help her write down the things she most wants her daughter to know. At the end of each section is an open page to jot any additional ideas or musings she has on the topic. With an elegant design and inspirational quotes throughout, this keepsake journal is sure to become a favorite.

Conversations With My Father

Dads have wise advice to pass on, too! This large, spiral-bound journal has enough space for Dad to include stories, dates and information about the special days of his life, and even photographs and mementos that he treasures. Thoughtful writing prompts get him thinking about the moments in his life that he most wants to share with his children, from what he dreamed about being when he was a child, to how he felt the first time he held a baby in his arms. This keepsake quality journal is a great way for Dad to send his Mighty Girl on her way with a reminder of his love and support.

B: A Poem

"If I should have a daughter, instead of Mom, she's going to call me Point B...." Sarah Kay's stunning poem B was the highlight of her 2011 TED Talk in Long Beach, California. Now, the text has been accented with elegant illustrations for this hardcover gift edition. This beautiful celebration of the bond between a mother and her daughter — and how it can sustain both through all manner of adversity — is sure to inspire Mighty Girl graduates. Fans of Kay will also want to check out the newly released hardcover illustrated gift edition of her poem The Type.

Graduation is a big change — for the graduate and for everyone who loves her. Hopefully these books will help inspire both of you to move into this new phase of life. If there’s one thing they teach us, it’s that great things are ahead!

Additional Recommended Resources

This post was posted in Front Page, A Mighty Girl Top Pick, A Mighty Girl Spotlight and was tagged with inspirational, graduation, gift books