Book Gifts for Moving-up Ceremonies - Milwaukee North Shore Moms

This story was contributed by literary specialist and mom Rosemary D’Urso, aka the “Library Mom”. Go to for more of her expert picks, and follow her on Instagram @librarymombooks.

Whether children are graduating from preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, or middle school books make the perfect gifts and end-of-the-year reads! With their affirming and inspiring text, the below stories are ones that children will love revisiting over the years with new perspectives.  

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin

(Ages 2 and up)

This beautiful love letter from a parent to child muses over all that they will do in the world and confidently states that no matter where they go, they will be kind, clever, bold, and loved. This is one of my absolute favorite gifts for baby showers and graduations. The charming illustrations and the powerful message of encouragement give this tender tale a timeless feel making it a classic that is ideal for reading at any age.  



Go Get ‘Em Tiger! by Sabrina Moyle; illustrations by Eunice Moyle

(Ages 3 and up)

Filled with rolling rhymes and bright illustrations, this is one fun read aloud! The narrator cheers on a lively tiger as he makes his way in the world. The energetic text is filled with amusing word play and affirms readers of the many positive attributes they have encouraging them to be their best selves. This is sure to be a popular choice for parents and teachers!

Celebrate You by Sherri Duskey Rinker; illustrations by A.N. Kang

(Ages 3 and up)

The acclaimed author of  Good Night, Good Night Construction Site is back with another outstanding book. The upbeat rhyming text is perfectly complimented with adorable illustrations of a cuddly penguin who is being celebrated by his sweet family and friends. “First you crawled, then you walked, then you ran- now you FLY! Nothing can stop you when you aim for the sky!” The inspiring text is an excellent way to build self-confidence in children.

You are a Beautiful Beginning by Nina Laden; illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley

(Ages 3 and up)

Imaginative illustrations adorn the pages of this attractive book that teaches children what is important in this world. It is not being the best at something or having the most of something that matters, it is loving ourselves and those around us that is essential. A lovely offering that makes a perfect gift for baby showers, birthdays, graduations, or for anyone in need of an uplifting story.

I Knew You Could Do It! by Nancy Tillman

(Ages 3 and up)

You can’t go wrong with a Nancy Tillman book and this one is a real standout. Her signature lush illustrations fill the pages as brief text celebrates how a child overcame struggles to achieve their goal. This is a great choice to rejoice in a child’s accomplishment.

Be You! by Peter Reynolds

(Ages 4 and up)

Oh, how I love Peter Reynolds and his ability to make children feel like the most special people in the world. In his newest book, he encourages children to be their best selves. The simple, inspiring text is enhanced by his delightful signature artwork. The message that we can make the world a better place simply by being ourselves is both comforting and rousing making this a must-read for many children. 

What Do You Do With a Chance? by Kobi Yamada; illustrated by Mae Besom

(Ages 5 and up)

In the third installment of the New York Times best-selling series, a boy is presented with a chance displayed in the form of a glowing paper butterfly. Feeling unsure, he lets the chance fly away. The second time a chance appears, he feels the pressure of others watching him and again doesn’t grab hold of the opportunity. After ignoring several more chances, he decides to finally let go of his fears and seize the biggest chance yet and soars to great heights.

This exceptional book is sure to enthuse those apprehensive about life’s next big steps. I also highly recommend the other books in this series What Do You Do With an Idea(2014) and What Do you Do With a Problem (2016).

A Girl Like You and A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy; illustrated by Kayla Harren

In these beautifully illustrated treasures, an unseen narrator gives sage advice to a young girl and boy inspiring them to be their best selves. The emboldening text urges children to try new things, stand up for themselves and others, be a good friend, and love themselves just the way they are.  There are so many great lessons in these books and they are sure to be revisited often through the years

Sometimes You Fly by Katherine Applegate; illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt

(Ages 4 and up)

This gorgeous story eloquently teaches children about the power of perseverance. The beautiful ink and water color illustrations cleverly capture “before” and “after” milestone moments of a group of diverse children.  The pictures expertly portray the children’s initial frustration while struggling with a task then jubilation after each achievement no matter the size.

With the message of persistence and learning from one’s mistakes, this exceptional book will resonate with many.

The Dot by Peter Reynolds

(Ages 4 and up)

This is one of my all-time favorite children’s books. When a discouraged girl named Vashti believes she cannot draw, her art teacher encourages her to make a simple dot. When the teacher then frames her picture, Vashti is inspired to make more artwork and creates her own gallery full of work. This deceptively simple story inspires readers to believe in themselves and gives them the confidence to make their own mark in the world.

Be A Maker by Katey Howes; illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic 

(Ages 4 and up)

 “Ask yourself this question in the morning when you wake: in a world of possibilities, today, what will you make?” So begins the rousing book, Be a Maker, that encourages children to create something amazing each and every day. Whether it be artwork, music, an invention, or even making a friend, this story inspires children to make a difference in the world. The rhythmic text and charming illustrations culminate in a sweet scene where a diverse group of people come together to celebrate one way they have made their community a better place.

What Would You Do in a Book About You? by Jean Reidy; illustrated by Joey Chou

(Ages 4 and up)

Beginning with imaginative adventures like riding on dinosaurs and traveling through time and space then transitioning to more realistic aspirations such as being a kind friend, this engaging story invites readers to imagine all of the different things they could do in a book about themselves.

The flowing rhymes and colorful eye-catching illustrations make this a great choice to read aloud to a group of children. Its emboldening message that we can accomplish anything in our own story also makes this a great gift for graduations or birthdays.

Goodbye Brings Hello by Dianne White; illustrated by Daniel Wiseman

(Ages 4 and up)

Rhyming text and bright illustrations present a group of diverse children moving on to a new phase in their life. The milestones range in significance from graduating to tying shoes, to learning to read and write. The children’s smiling faces exude pride at each important transition letting the reader know that while change may be scary, it also brings newfound happiness.

This one is especially perfect for those kids who are a little nervous about saying goodbye to their old classroom and friends and preparing for a new phase.

What Will You Be? by Yamile Saied Méndez; illustrated by Kate Alizadeh

(Ages 5 and up)

A wise abuela helps her granddaughter imagine all the things she will become when she grows up in this stirring story. This book goes beyond the usual aspirations of children to become a certain profession and focuses more on abstract ideas like becoming a builder who molds the world, a farmer who plants wonder and change, a leader who lights the way for others, and so much more. This story is both dazzling and thought-provoking!


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