One of my favorite teaching strategies is using picture books to teach SEL skills. Picture books are powerful tools that make social emotional learning topics fun and meaningful. They are also very accessible. Even if you don’t have a robust collection of high quality children’s literature in your classroom library, you likely have access to books through your school library, public library, or on the internet. The best part is that students love listening to and discussing stories about relatable characters and storylines. They learn so much from them! In this post, I share my favorite read alouds for teaching growth mindset.
All of the books are part of my Starts With a Story collection. Ish, Owen, The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do and The Dot are also part of my growth mindset SEL Unit, which includes interactive read aloud lesson plans among tons of other resources for teaching growth mindset. Check out the list of growth mindset read alouds below!
10 Growth Mindset Read Alouds
Below are 10 quality growth mindset children’s books for elementary teachers. Your kids will love these read alouds! They are great for teaching growth mindset, as well as many other concepts and skills.
1. Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
Ramon had always loved drawing. One day, his brother laughed at his picture of a vase. Ramon tried and tried to fix his drawing so it would look like a vase of flowers, but he couldn’t get his drawing to look just right. After much frustration, his sister tells Ramon she thinks it looks “vase-ish.” This inspires Ramon to take a second look at all of his drawings. This book lends itself to teaching about growth mindset because Ramon learns the power of practice and not giving up! He may not know how to make a vase yet, but right now, it is a vase-ish! My Growth Mindset SEL bundle includes an SEL lesson based on this picture book!
2. Owen by Kevin Henkes
Owen is a mouse who loves his blanket, Fuzzy. He takes Fuzzy with him everywhere he goes and does everything with Fuzzy. Mrs. Tweezers next door points out that Owen is a little too old for Fuzzy. Owen’s parents try to take Fuzzy, but Owen finds a way to get it back! When it is time for school, Owen’s mother turns Fuzzy into handkerchiefs so he still has a part of Fuzzy with him. This book lends itself to teaching about growth mindset because they make adjustments to their thinking to find a solution to their problem! My Growth Mindset SEL bundle includes an SEL lesson based on this picture book!
3. The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires
One day, Lou’s friends decide they want to play pirates and a tree can be their pirate ship. Lou has never climbed a tree before, and is nervous about being up high. Lou tries to think of other ways to get into the tree, but eventually tries to climb. She gives climbing her best try, but is not able to get up the tree. Lou realizes that she can’t climb yet, but will try again soon. This book reminds students of the importance of the power of yet and not giving up on your dreams! My Growth Mindset SEL bundle includes an SEL lesson based on this picture book!
4. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Vashti is a young girl who thinks she cannot draw and feels especially frustrated in art class as her paper is empty. Her teacher encourages her to make a start by making a mark and signing her name. By having an open mind, Vashti’s creativity and resilience were unstoppable. This heartwarming story is a great way to introduce the concept of growth mindset to students! My Growth Mindset SEL bundle includes an SEL lesson based on this picture book!
5. Aaron Slater, Illustrator by Andrea Beaty
When Aaron Slater was a young boy he loved drawing with chalk and listening to stories. He looked forward to the day he learned to read because he dreamed of being an author. However, when Aaron started school he realized learning to read wouldn’t be as easy for him as it was for his friends. Written in a dyslexia friendly book, students learn that we can conquer our challenges, no matter how hard they might be! Aaron teaches us to not give up, to think flexibly, and to be proud of what we can do. Check out these Aaron Slater, Illustrator activities!
6. The Oldest Student by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and Oge Mora
Mary Walker grew up in slavery in the 1860s, learning the rules of the south quickly as an African-American. She had no time to read: she worked, and worked, and worked. When the Emancipation Proclamation took effect, Mary and her family stayed in the south and worked with her mother. After her children had gone, sitting in her Retirement Home, Mary decided to learn to read. She studied and studied, and was finally able to read the signs over all the city. The squiggles came to life! This true story teaches students that we are never too old to learn something new! Check out these The Oldest Student activities!
7. Bright Star by Yuyi Morales
In a world where so much is uncertain, we see a mother dear awaken her fawn for the first time. We see her encourage the fawn to be safe, take risks, and take in the beautiful landscape. This story lends itself to teaching about growth mindset because even animals practice getting better and stronger at different things! Check out these Bright Star activities!
8. Linus The Little Yellow Pencil by Scott Magoon
Linus is a pencil who loves to draw. He decides to enter into an art contest, and had his eye on the grand prize. Ernie, Linus’s eraser, does not think that any of the drawings Linus is creating are good enough to win them the prize. Soon enough, Linus and Earnie work together to create a masterpiece! Students will learn about growth mindset and positive-self talk as they hear the story of how a pencil learned to believe in himself. Check out these Linus The Little Yellow Pencil activities!
9. The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright and Jim Field
High up, above the trees, lived Kevin the koala, who felt safe clinging onto his branch. Down below felt too noisy and too scary with all the other animals. Over time, as he realized he missed his friends, he came down and had fun! He decided that even though he likes to follow his own plan, he can learn to be flexible and escape his comfort zone. This text is an excellent mentor text to discuss the importance of flexibility and growth mindset. Kevin demonstrates many qualities that represent a child in a fixed mindset. Check out these The Koala Who Could activities!
10. The Magical Yet by Angela Diterlizzi
This story teaches us that since the day we begin, we are all born with a Yet. These Yets are magical, and they help us to grow in all sorts of ways. Following a young child who is learning to ride her bike, the Magical Yet reminds her that she learned to babble, to crawl, and even to walk. Adding Yet to each problem changes her mindset and helps her to ride that bike. This beautiful story is great for any age, any problem, and a helpful reminder that we can achieve any goal with the power of the Magical Yet! Check out these The Magical Yet activities!
Integrated SEL and Literacy Activities
Below are some integrated SEL and literacy resources for elementary teachers.
Our Growth Mindset Unit, which is available individually or as part of a year-long SEL bundle, includes lessons for the first four books on this list. This unit is packed with lesson plans, teaching resources, games, and activities. Learn more about it!
SEL Book Companions
As I mentioned earlier, I love teaching SEL skills using picture books. That’s why I created the Starts With a Story Collection. High quality children’s literature supports elementary teachers in delivering meaningful and accessible SEL lessons. All of the read alouds on this list are part of this book companion collection. Check out the book companions below!
We hope you found this list of growth mindset read alouds helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in these posts: