HomeBooks by AgeAges 0-3Gift of Reading: Graduation Gifts, 2009

Gift of Reading: Graduation Gifts, 2009

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 4, 2009

An excerpt from J.K. Rowling‘s Harvard commencement address, 2008:

“On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.  …

… You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most trans-formative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”

Now that we have heard great words of wisdom from one of the most influential writers of current time about the importance of imagination, here are my picks to help unleash and inspire creativity and ingenuity in graduates of all ages:

Only One You

by Linda Kranz

Reading level:
Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Rising Moon; Third printing edition (July 28, 2006)

Publisher’s Synopsis: There’s only one you in this great big world. Make it a better place.

Adri’s mama and papa share some of the wisdom they have gained through the years with their eager son. Their words, simple and powerful, are meant to comfort and guide him as he goes about exploring the world.

This exquisitely illustrated book explodes with color and honest insights. Kranz’s uniquely painted “rock-fish,” set against vibrant blue seas, make an unforgettable and truly special impression. Only One You will inspire parents and children of all ages as they swim through life.

Read reviews or add this book to your collection: Only One You

Walk On! (Gift Edition)

by Marla Frazee

Reading level:

Hardcover: 40 pages

Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books (April 1, 2008)

Publisher’s Synopsis: Trying something new is never easy. Like walking, for instance. But aren’t you sick of sitting on your bottom day in and day out? Hasn’t lying around all the time become a little bit boring? This handy guide, both practical and inspirational, is here to help. With useful tips, common pitfalls, and Marla Frazee’s adorable illustrations, this book is perfect for anyone–from a baby to a graduate to a grown-up–who’s about to take a scary first step.

Read reviews or add this book to your collection: Walk On! (Gift Edition)

Old Turtle

by Douglas Wood (Author), Cheng-Khee Chee (Illustrator)

Reading level:
Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 48 pages

Publisher: Scholastic Press (March 1, 2007)

Publisher’s Synopsis: When it was first published a decade ago, OLD TURTLE was hailed as a beautiful fable about ecology, peace, and the interconnectedness of all beings. Now considered a modern classic, OLD TURTLE continues to inspire people all over the world. Few books can match the understated power of its hopeful message or the evocative beauty of its illustrations. Each book will be packed with a CD featuring the author, Douglas Wood, reading the book, accompanied by original musical compositions. To commemorate the tenth anniversary of this best-selling favorite, a percentage of the book’s proceeds will be donated to worldwide peacemaking organizations.

Read reviews or add this book to your collection: Old Turtle

I Knew You Could

by Craig Dorfman (Author), Cristina Ong (Illustrator)

Reading level:
Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (March 27, 2008)

Publisher’s Synopsis: In celebration of the fifth anniversary of this inspiring story, we present a special hardcover edition featuring The Little Engine, proudly chugging away to achievement! With simple, rhyming text that is truthful and encouraging and applicable to all ages, it is no wonder that I Knew You Could! has been such a bestseller over the years. This new edition is sure to make the perfect gift for friends, family and graduates of all ages.

Read reviews or add this book to your collection: I Knew You Could

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Deluxe Edition

by Dr. Suess

Reading level:
Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 56 pages

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; Deluxe/Slipcase edition (April 19, 1993)

From the inside flap: Illus. in full color. “Don’t be fooled by the title of this seriocomic ode to success; it’s not ‘Climb Every Mountain,’ kid version. All journeys face perils, whether from indecision, from loneliness, or worst of all, from too much waiting. Seuss’ familiar pajama-clad hero is up to the challenge, and his odyssey is captured vividly in busy two-page spreads evoking both the good times (grinning purple elephants, floating golden castles) and the bad (deep blue wells of confusion). Seuss’ message is simple but never sappy: life may be a ‘Great Balancing Act,’ but through it all ‘There’s fun to be done.'”–(starred) Booklist.

Read reviews or add this book to your collection: Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Deluxe Edition

Hope Is An Open Heart

by Lauren Thompson

Reading level:
Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 40 pages

Publisher: Scholastic Press (September 1, 2008)

Publisher’s Synopsis:
We’ve all had days when hope feels far away, when the world seems cold and dark. Thankfully, comfort can come to us in many ways, as it does in this very special book.

Lauren Thompson’s luminous text, paired with breathtaking photographs from around the world, provides an uplifting introduction to the meaning of hope. Speaking to people of all ages, across all cultures, these words and images celebrate loving families, caring friends, small kindnesses, and great inner strength. Through this book, we can see hope reach around the world, and feel its power to change us all.

Read reviews or add this book to your collection: Hope Is An Open Heart

 Big Plans

by Bob Shea (Author), Lane Smith (Author)

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 48 pages

Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (April 15, 2008)

Publisher’s Synopsis: “I’ve got big plans, BIG PLANS I say!”

A little boy sits in the corner of a classroom, plotting his future. He’s got plans…and have you heard? They’re BIG. With the help of a mynah bird and lucky stinky hat, he’ll find a quarter…boss around some muckety-mucks…become the mayor–or even the president! And while he’s at it…fly to the moon!

This exuberant story is perfect for any child who is ready to dream BIG. Are you in?

Read reviews or add this book to your collection: Big Plans

The Arrival

by Shaun Tan

Reading level: Young Adult

Hardcover: 128 pages

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (October 1, 2007)

Publisher’s Synopsis: In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He’s embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life – he’s leaving home to build a better future for his family. Shaun Tan evokes universal aspects of an immigrant’s experience through a singular work of the imagination. He does so using brilliantly clear and mesmerizing images. Because the main character can’t communicate in words, the book forgoes them too. But while the reader experiences the main character’s isolation, he also shares his ultimate joy.

Read reviews or add this book to your collection: The Arrival

Life. Get One! It’s Happy Bunny

by Jim Benton

Reading level:
Ages 9-12

Paperback: 80 pages

Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; Rep Spl edition (April 1, 2008)

Publisher’s Synopsis: In this updated edition of the classic, LIFE. GET ONE., It’s Happy Bunny provides nuggets of wisdom to take with you as you go out into the world (or on to Junior High). Is the glass half-empty or half-full? Who cares? Learn to focus on the things that truly matter — like yourself and money.

Read reviews or add this book to your collection: Life. Get One! It’s Happy Bunny

Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

Listening Age: Teens and YA

Audio CD:
660 pages

Publisher: Highbridge Audio; Unabridged edition (January 13, 2003)

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Martel’s novel tells the story of Pi–short for Piscine–an unusual boy raised in a zoo in India. Pi’s father decides to move the family to live in Canada and sell the animals to the great zoos of America. The ship taking them across the Pacific sinks and Pi finds himself the sole human survivor on a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra with a broken leg and Bengal tiger called Richard Parker. LIFE OF PI brings together many themes including religion, zoology, fear, and sheer tenacity. This is a funny, wise, and highly original look at what it means to be human.

Read reviews or add this audio CD to your collection: Life of Pi

Closing note: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” ~ Dr. Suess

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  • I have just been working on a piece about the benefits of failure. The way a person handles failure can make all the difference.

    May 29, 2009
  • Very wise words! I’d love to read the finished work!

    May 29, 2009

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