How often do you have to coax, encourage or even beg your students to just TRY a new activity? How about those GT students who explode when they suddenly meet a challenge that pushes their thinking? Or that student who MUST do everything perfectly? Or YOU find out in a PD that you’ve been doing readers workshop wrong for the last five years? Okay that was me. Regardless, these seven growth mindset books are great for any any age (even us teachers).
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds // El punto
This book by the amazing author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds tells the story about a girl named Vashti who is CONVINCED that she is not an artist. So much so that she spends an entire art class without drawing even a single dot on her paper. Her teacher encourages her to just start with a dot and see where it takes her.
She finds out that putting down one first dot led to more dots. With each dot she tries, she learns that she actually IS an artist after all. This book teaches the importance of having the courage to try even if what happens isn’t perfect or even good. Having it be in the context of a student at school really helps students make a connection between themselves and Vashti.
If you’re a bilingual teacher or teach in Spanish, the book is also available in Spanish with the title El punto.
Ish by Peter H. Reynolds // Casi
Another growth mindset book by the author Peter Reynolds is Ish or Casi if you teach in Spanish. This story is a great follow-up to The Dot. Ramon loves to draw until one day his brother laughs at his drawings. He throws away the drawing he was working on, but his sister runs off with the crumpled up drawing. Ramon chases her and sees that she has covered the walls of her room with his imperfect drawings. She tells him that he has “ish” drawings. Drawing a tree-ish, vase-ish, etc.
He learned that day that his drawings didn’t need to be perfect. He saw the value of imperfection and kept on drawing and drawing. With each attempt his drawings improved. This one really resonated with me. When I was a kid I quit playing countless sports because I was not very good at them right away like my brother was.
This is a great book to bring up to show your students that imperfection is not only okay, it’s the first step to being kind of good at something. Hello growth mindset!
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty // Rosa Pionera, Ingeniera
This book is part of the STEM Kids series by Andrea Beaty, but this book more than the others in the series is great for teaching growth mindset.
Rosie is a girl who loves creating new inventions with anything she can get her hands on. Her ideas are spectacular, but one day her favorite uncle laughs at an invention that she made just for him. She vows to never make another invention ever again.
One day, though, her Auntie Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes to visit and says that she has always wanted to fly. Rosie eventually decides to try to invent a flying machine for her auntie, and tries it out. It worked for a second, but then it failed. Rosie was frustrated, but her aunt tells her that the only true failure is quitting.
This book is great for your students who get frustrated when they can’t get something right the first time or the second time or even the fifth time.
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires // La cosa más magnífica
The story of a girl and her faithful helper, her dog, as they embark on a mission to create the most magnificent thing. The problem with that, though, is that none of her creations are what she had planned in her mind. After several failed attempts, she gets frustrated.
Her dog then suggests that they go on a walk. That’s when she has an epiphany! She goes back and finally creates the most magnificent thing. A great story that shows that sometimes you need to take a break from a project to find a solution.
A great book for showing students that there are MANY ways to try to solve a problem, even if that means doing nothing for awhile. Again, this book is available in both English and Spanish.
How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers // Cómo atrapar una estrella
If I had to sum up this book in 2 words it would be “patience” and “perseverance.” In this book a boy decides that he wants to catch a star of his very own. He comes up with a plan and tries a few different things to catch a star, but his plan doesn’t work.
Then he tries something completely different and with a little patience, he finally catches a star. Perfect for showing kids that sometimes you need to be patient and persevere to solve a problem.
This book is by the amazing author Oliver Jeffers, also the author of Stuck and Lost and Found, and is also AWESOME because it’s available in Spanish as well as English.
Flight School by Lita Judge
Penguin KNOWS, he can feel it, he is meant to FLY. So Penguin goes to Flight School that promises to be able to teach all birds how to fly. His teachers try and try, but he just can’t fly. Penguin never loses hope, and does everything his teachers tell him.
Finally, with the creative help of one of his teachers a flamingo he flies.
This book is perfect for showing students that it’s okay to ask for and accept help from others when trying to solve a problem. It teaches the idea of collective efficacy: none of us is as smart as all of us.
Unfortunately this book is only available in English as of this writing.
What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada
This final book is one of the newer books on the list and is part of a trilogy of books also including What Do You Do With an Idea? and What Do You Do With a Chance? Kobi Yamada, between his writing and illustrations, takes a very complex idea and through metaphor simplifies such that even Kindergarteners can understand.
A boy notices a problem one day and the more he ignores it, the bigger it grows. Finally he can no longer ignore the problem and he faces it head on. When he finally confronts his problem, he finds that solving the problem completely changes his world. Solving the problem helped him grow and learn.
This story along with the beautiful illustrations eloquently personifies a problem and the problem-solving process. Students love it, and you will too.
If you are looking for activities and lessons to go along with these books, I have lessons for each book along with reading comprehension activities and growth mindset extension activities in English and Spanish, English only, and Spanish only. Check out the units by clicking on the product that most closely describes your type of classroom:
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