Perseverance is a lifelong skill that can help increase grit and determination to achieve goals. This is why it is so important to teach kids. I use children’s books about perseverance as a gateway for opening up discussions in the learning environment. Whether you are a teacher, counselor, or parent, using books to help illustrate a topic is a great way for kids to learn. As you are reading, ask questions and engage the reader.
I often cover perseverance in my lessons, I use this Executive Functioning Passport activity that covers perseverance and this Character Education Perseverance Curriculum that includes everything you need to teach perseverance in your classroom. Here is a list of some of the awesome children’s books about perseverance out there that I use to help teach this topic to students.
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I CAN’T DO THAT, YET
Title of Book and Author: I can’t do that, YET: Growth Mindset by Esther P Cordova
A short summary of the book: Enna and her father sit down to read a book, her father asks her to read the first page and she says she can’t do it. Enna then has a dream and she is visited by her future self. Her future self is a computer programmer and Enna can hardly believe it because she can’t do any programming now, but her future self tells her “You can’t do that YET.” She then meets other potential future selves, and realizes that all she needs to be able to read that book is a little time to get it right.
Why I like the book: I love that Enna meets your future self and she is a programmer that created a game, kids will really find that interesting. I also love the idea that she has many different possible futures selves showing she is capable of a lot. The concept of teaching kids “you can’t do something…yet” is very important to learn to persevere and not give up.
The moral of the story: Don’t give up and believe in yourself.
Topics covered: Growth Mindset, Self-esteem, Determination, Perseverance.
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): I can’t do that, YET on Amazon
THE THING LOU COULDN’T DO
Title of Book and Author: The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires
A short summary of the book: Lou and her friends are brave, and they love adventures! They love to play and imagine things like running faster than airplanes can fly, building strong fortresses, rescuing wild animals, and more. One day, Lou’s friend suggests making a tree become their ship to play pirates in. Lou begins to feel worried. She has never climbed a tree before, and she is not sure that she will be able to do it. She suggests they play a game that is not up a tree, then gives excuses why she can’t climb, and finally says that she does not even want to climb the tree. Of course, this isn’t true because she is a brave adventurer. What will she do?
Why I like the book: Ashley Spires shows the procrastination, excuse-making, and denial that children often experience when presented with trying something new or hard. Spires’ book also demonstrates clearly the great empowerment and growth that one can feel after working through new challenges. Compassion is modeled through the book by Lou’s friends as they patiently help Lou.
The moral of the story: You can be brave and try new things!
Topics covered: Perfectionism; Overcoming Mistakes
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): The Thing Lou couldn’t do on Amazon
ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER
Title of Book and Author: Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
A short summary of the book: Rosie Revere, Engineer is about a second-grade girl who wants to be a great engineer. Rosie loves making things but only when others are not watching. She is saddened when others laugh at her creations, but her great-great aunt Rose helps her learn that her creations are worth showing, and trying again after failing is always worth it.
Why I like the book: This story inspires young children to experiment, invent, and never stop trying. The reader can assume from illustrations that Rosie’s great-great aunt Rose is actually Rosie the Riveter from World War II. This book has many opportunities to discuss females in science as well as the power of encouraging others as they face challenges.
The moral of the story: Don’t quit: the only way you can fail is if you give up.
Topics covered: Perseverance; Courage; Bravery; Worry; Females in Science
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Rosie Revere, Engineer on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Flight School by Lita Judge
A short summary of the book: Flight School is about a penguin who shows up to flight school and is determined to fly. Penguin has a brave, persevering soul like an eagle, but his body was not made to soar. Penguin starts to become discouraged as he is told that flying is not for him and he sees all of the other birds taking flight. He decides to not give up and is successful in achieving his dreams with a little technical help from a friend.
Why I like the book: This story is a cute way to encourage young children to work hard towards their goals. Penguin is also a great model of positivity in the midst of trials.
The moral of the story: Determination and help from others are both vital in achieving your dreams.
Topics covered: Bravery; Worry; Determination; Positivity; Adversity; Support
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Flight School on Amazon
AFTER THE FALL
Title of Book and Author: After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Dan Santat
A short summary of the book: Have you ever wondered what happened to Humpty Dumpty after his fall? Dan Santat’s heartwarming book picks up where the timeless classic left off. After his famous fall, Humpty Dumpty is afraid of heights, which prevents him from doing some of his favorite things. One day, he has a brilliant idea: to create an airplane so he can enjoy being in the sky again. When his hard work doesn’t go as planned, he decides to face his fears and climb the wall again.
Why I like the book: This book will bring a smile to both you and your students’ faces. With beautiful illustrations and humor sprinkled throughout the story, this inspiring story has a timeless message about overcoming adversity. You will be rooting for Humpty Dumpty throughout the book.
The moral of the story: “Life begins when you get back up,” Santat describes. Don’t let one accident or mistake define you; you can always try again and face your fears
Topics covered: Facing Fears; Overcoming Adversity; Courage
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): After the Fall on Amazon
SALT IN HIS SHOES
Title of Book and Author: Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream by Deloris Jordan and Roslyn Jordan
A short summary of the book: This story is about famous NBA basketball player Michael Jordan as a young boy. Michael often worried that he would never be big enough to play basketball like the bigger kids. While fixing dinner one night, his mom told him to put salt in his shoes and pray about his worries.
Michael’s mom comforted him in a time of worry. She sought to teach Michael that his family would always be there to support him. Michael learned from his mom and dad that he needed a strong will, determination, lots of practice, and prayer to make his dreams come true.
Why I like the book: Michael Jordan’s mother and sister urge children to shoot for their dreams and never give up. They explain in the book that Michael’s success was not merely luck but largely due to his perseverance through hardships.
The moral of the story: Determination comes from within; you must have hope and believe in yourself. You can achieve anything you set your mind to.
Topics covered: Worry; Determination; Perseverance; Following your Dreams
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Salt in his Shoes on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Songbird by Jenn Larson.
A short summary of the book: The story is about Sydney Sparrow, who lives in a tree in the park with her bird family. One day, there is a concert in the park and Sydney absolutely loves it. She decides she wants to be a conductor. When she tells her family about this, they tell her birds can only be seed gatherers, nest builders, or egg protectors, they can’t be conductors. This makes Sydney sad and when she brings her dream up at school, the same thing happens. She decides not to talk about her dream at school or at home anymore. Sydney finds where the Orchestra practices and attends every day. Then at an important performance, the conductor drops his baton and the performance stops. Sydney rushes to the rescue and begins conducting the orchestra herself. The audience, including her family, is amazed. They tell her how proud they are of her for chasing her dreams, no matter how impossible it seemed.
Why I like the book: This book is so endearing and will be great to encourage kids to find the courage, self-acceptance, and determination to reach their goals. It is a great addition to your classroom or counseling library.
The moral of the story: Believe in yourself and your dreams and work hard to achieve them against all odds.
Topics covered: Perseverance; Courage; Determination.
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Songbird on Amazon
I CAN DO HARD THINGS
Title of Book and Author: I can do Hard Things by Gabi Garcia
A short summary of the book: Kids get so many messages about how they should be, it can be overwhelming. When this happens, it’s important to listen to that quiet voice inside and use it as a guide. Some of the voices the book goes through are: I can do hard things, I can be a friend to myself, I can ask for help, I can feel all my feelings, I can believe in myself, I can try again, I can understand different points of view, I can practice peace, and more. It reiterates “I’m ready for the hard things I have to do, and please remember, so are you!”
Why I like the book: The illustrations are so diverse, I am completely in love with them. There are many different skin colors, ethnicities, cultures, and disabilities shown. Representation is so important and this book truly has that. I also love the affirmations for kids focusing not only on having a growth mindset but also kindness and acceptance of others. This book is a total gem!
The moral of the story: I can use Mindful affirmations to motivate myself when things get difficult.
Topics covered: Growth Mindset, Determination, Perseverance, Mindfulness
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): I can do hard things on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton
A short summary of the book: This story is about thirteen American girls who overcame great obstacles to become amazing women who helped shape our country. They did this by persistently standing up and speaking out for the right thing even when it was hard or looked down upon. Chelsea Clinton’s book features Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor, and one other inspirational woman.
Why I like the book: This book encourages young children, especially girls, to overlook their worries and always be courageous as they face adversity. Persistence is highlighted throughout the book through each of the women’s stories.
The moral of the story: Amazing doors have already been opened by many courageous people before you, and it’s your turn to choose bravery and persistence to continue to do great things!
Topics covered: Persistence; Courage; Feminism; Obstacles; Adversity; Bravery; Worry
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): She persisted on Amazon
THANK YOU, MR. FALKER
Title of Book and Author: Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
A short summary of the book: Patricia Polacco writes Thank you, Mr. Falker as an autobiographical story. The main character, Trisha, represents Patricia. Trisha loves to listen to stories as her mom and brother read aloud to her and she wants to learn to read so badly. As she begins school, she realizes that the letters and numbers are always jumbled up. Her classmates make fun of her and call her names, and she continues to struggle all the way through fourth grade. When Trisha is in fifth grade, her teacher, Mr. Falker recognizes Trisha’s strength in her artistic abilities, understands her difficulty with reading, and takes the time to help her learn.
Why I like the book: Although this story does not specifically mention dyslexia, the reader can infer this is the learning disability Trisha is faced with. Mr. Falker exhibits patience and true care as he takes the time to work with Trisha to help her love of reading bloom. This story is a true inspiration for teachers and students alike!
The moral of the story: Never give up on your dreams.
Topics covered: Worry; Perseverance; Dyslexia; Learning Disabilities; Encouraging Others
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Thank you, Mr. Falker on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Failure Friday by Andrea Burns
A short summary of the book: 🏃♀️Meet Emma, who comes from a family of runners, but is not much of a runner herself. She joins the school’s running club and makes a mistake at an important relay, causing her team to lose. Emma is upset and thinks she’s a failure and wants to quit. She gets encouragement from her coach and her mom and after more practice, Emma learns that failure is not something to fear. “We never lose. We either win or we learn”
Why I like the book: Do your students get frustrated when they fail?🙋 Then this is the book for you! Failure is an important part of life, through trial and error children become more resilient. When failure is feared it can cause shame and anxiety.
The moral of the story: You can learn from your failures, to keep improving.
Topics covered: Resilience; Perseverance; Determination.
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Failure Friday on Amazon
Resources about Perseverance
Pair your favorite children’s books about perseverance with these engaging activities to make the perfect classroom lesson.