12 Best High School Graduation Book Ideas

If you’re thinking of ways to celebrate your graduate’s accomplishments, consider one of these books as a congratulatory send-off to college or the real world. Most importantly, don’t forget to take the time to add a few lines of love of your own.

Please note: We are a reader-supported site and receive compensation from purchases made through these links, which helps us pay our writers. Thanks! 

Graduation book ideas 

1. The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College  by Harlan Cohen (Amazon)

Naked roommate

Harlan Cohen is the dean of advice for college-bound kids. His New York Times bestselling book is now in its 7th edition, and there is no wonder why. Cohen brings a wealth of experience in navigating college based on his 400+ college visits and interviews with more than 1000 students.

This book covers much of what college students might expect with tips spanning day one of freshman year to graduation. And, yes, there is Tip #16, The Naked Roommate

2. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World by Admiral William H. McCraven (Ret) (Amazon)

Make your bed

Admiral William McRaven, retired United States Navy four-star admiral and special ops commander, delivered an EPIC commencement speech at the University of Texas. When he published it as a book, it became a bestseller and is a wonderful gift for grads.

3. Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone: Advice Your Mom Would Give if She Thought You Were Listening by Becky Blades (Amazon)

Do Your Laundry

Becky Blades is a super-talented artist who writes with just the right balance of wit and wisdom. Her book, now in a second edition, is perfect for any young woman in your life because of the messages of empowerment, understanding, and optimism she so beautifully conveys. It is a short manual for life, and who doesn’t need that?  For more about how and why Blades wrote her book, read our interview and review here.

4. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them By Dr. Meg Jay (Amazon)

Defining Decade

Dr. Meg Jay, Clinical Psychologist and an Associate Professor of Human Development at the University of Virginia, has written this bestselling guide to how young adults can make the most of their twenties. While your high school senior may be a year or two away from that milestone birthday, this book can give them a head start on their future now.

5. Your Turn: How to Be an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims (Amazon)

Bestselling author, Julie Lythcott-Haims, rocked the parenting world with her blockbuster guide, How to Raise an Adult.  In her latest book, she offers advice to our teens and young adults, giving them insight into how to take next steps in “adulting.”

As the mother of two, and former Stanford freshman dean, she draws on her rich experiences in working and living with this age group and offers an abundance of real-world examples to her readers.

6. Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss (Amazon)

This Dr. Seuss classic is a perfect gift book for a grad. It can also serve as a sentimental reminder of the many people in a young person’s life who helped them reach this important milestone. Pass it around and ask friends, family teachers and coaches to write a few words of encouragement and congratulations to your son or daughter.

7. For Every One by Jason Reynolds (Amazon)

Author Jason Reynolds is not only #1 New York Times bestselling author, but has also won a bounty or Awards: Newbery, Printz and Kirkus, and is a two-time National Book Award finalist. He has won a UK Carnegie Medal and has received so many other incredible honors. This book was originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

8. Hello World! by Kelly Corrigan (Amazon)

hello world

If you were considering gifting your grad the classic Dr. Seuss book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, look at the newly-released Hello World! New York Times bestselling author Kelly Corrigan is not only one of our favorite writers but also the mother of a college student and class of 2022 high school senior.

She conveys this simple message to grads, letting them know it is the PEOPLE they will meet more than the places they will go that will open their eyes and hearts to love and learn.

There’s more to everyone than you think.

So how will you know?

You’ll ask!

Kelly corrigan in hello world!

9. Napkin Finance by Tina Hay (Amazon)

Napkin Finance

There is so much to learn about money, and this Wall Street Journal best-seller will give your teen a foundation in financial literacy. This can be their go-to resource when they have questions about their student loans, submitting their income taxes, and so much more. We completely agree with this reviewer from the New York Times, who said, “This is the best personal finance primer I have read in years.”

10. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy (Amazon)


The boy, mole, fox and hound

If you’re looking for a book to inspire your teen and remind them of universal truths about friendship, love, and home, THIS is the book for you. Charlie Mackesy is the beloved British illustrator/author of this best-selling book.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” asked the mole.

“Kind,” said the boy.

11. GMorning, GNight: Little Pep Talks for You & Me by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Amazon)


Good Morning Good Night

No one in the arts (and beyond) may inspire more admiration than Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the amazing musical Hamilton. But before creating that mega-masterpiece, he created daily tweets to inspire his followers. This book is a collection of his best and a New York Times Bestseller.

12. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch(Amazon)

Last Lecture

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, found out he had terminal cancer, he began to write a final lecture to his students. That talk, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” was later turned into this touching book.

Grad book idea for parents

Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults by Lisa Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington (Amazon)

Grown and Flown paperback

Our book is filled with expert advice and some of the best parenting writers we know. For families with soon-to-be freshmen, we included our best tips for what to buy (and not buy) for college shopping, how to move into the dorm, and…how to say goodbye.

More Grad Gift Ideas:

High School Graduation Gifts for Your Teen’s Friends

Absolutely Fabulous High School Graduation Gifts for Girls

High School Graduation Gifts for Guys – They Will Love These! 

About Mary Dell Harrington

Mary Dell is the co-founder of Grown and Flown, the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. She started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and is co-author of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

Read more posts by Mary Dell

Don't miss out!
Want more like this? Get updates about parenting teens and young adults straight to your inbox.