Every educator knows that to foster a growth mindset, students need to embrace an attitude of risk-taking and perseverance. Curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking cannot be sparked in a void. An element of adversity is required to really ignite a student’s passion for learning. Unfortunately, environments where risk-taking is encouraged, and mistakes are seen as part of the learning process, can be few and far-between. The pressure put on today’s students to succeed can be overwhelming, and ironically, this makes them less likely to take risks or persevere in the face of potential failure.

Teachers need to remind students that making mistakes and getting messy is all part of the learning process. Luckily, one easy way to accomplish this is by providing them with literature that highlights these truths through fun, engaging stories. Here are just a few books that educators can use to promote risk-taking and perseverance in their classrooms:

The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper, George Hauman, and Doris Hauman (AD480L)

It would be a crime to not to include this classic book on a list about perseverance. The determination of the Little Blue Engine has been inspiring readers around the world since the story was first published in 1930. The Little Engine that Could is the perfect book for junior readers who are just beginning their learning journey. Not only does it teach them that kindness and hard work are important qualities, but it also demonstrates how perseverance can help them surmount even life’s toughest challenges!

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Dan Santat (AD550L)

We’ve all heard the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty, but what happened after his great fall? In this delightful reimagining of the classic story, Dan Santat spins a new tale where Humpty Dumpty must face his fears to reconnect with the things he enjoys. This book is a great tool for encouraging young students to overcome their anxieties. In the process, they’ll also discover new things about the world and themselves.

Brave Irene: A Picture Book by William Steig (AD630L)

Mrs. Bobbin, the dressmaker, isn’t feeling so well and can’t possibly deliver the beautiful ball gown she made for the duchess’ evening party. Luckily, her daughter, Irene, volunteers to get the gown to the palace on time, despite the fierce snowstorm that’s brewing outside. An excellent story for more advanced readers, Brave Irene, will teach students about perseverance and grit while also building up their language and vocabulary skills.

Fly High: The Story of Bessie Coleman by Louise Borden, Mary Kay Kroeger, and Teresa Flavin (820L)

Teach students about risk-taking, perseverance, and history, all at the same time! Based on true events, Fly High: The Story of Bessie Coleman tells the story of the first African American woman to hold a pilot license. As a girl, Bessie Coleman dreamed of flying, but becoming a pilot seemed impossible during a time when African Americans faced great discrimination. Nevertheless, Bessie persevered through hardship, and eventually achieved her dream of soaring through the sky.

Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry (830L)

This classic Newbery Medal winner is ideal reading for any student who needs help facing their fears. Set in a Polynesian atoll, Call it Courage follows a young boy named Mafatu who is determined to overcome his fear of the sea. Setting out with only his animal friends for company, Mafatu faces numerous challenges in his quest to become a true warrior. This inspiring story is sure to light a fire in readers by showing them that true courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to keep trying in the face of hardship.

If you found these suggestions to be helpful, be sure to check out Blue Apple’s Risk-Taking and Perseverance Strategy Exploration. This free resource provides educators with ingenious tips for cultivating a growth mindset in students while helping them realize the power of taking chances and making mistakes.
*Today’s image courtesy of Fly High: The Story of Bessie Coleman by Louise Borden, Mary Kay Kroeger, and Teresa Flavin