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6 Books For Kids That Exemplify A Growth Mindset

Dec 28, 2018

If you have kids in school or read parenting and education articles, you’ve most likely heard the term “growth mindset." It’s become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, and for good reason!

Growth mindset, a term coined by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, is the idea that when people believe that their knowledge and abilities can be improved with practice and effort, their odds of actually succeeding improve. Based on her research, Dweck has found that people with a growth mindset tend to experience greater success in work, relationships and life in general than those who have a fixed mindset — or the belief that intelligence and abilities are set and not changeable. 

Of course, this powerful theory applies to children too, and as a result, teaching growth mindset and encouraging the development of perseverance and grit has become an important part of many families and classrooms. 

Here are six fantastic books that show it’s OK to not succeed at first, and that when challenges and failures are seen as learning opportunities, it can often lead to great success.

The Most Magnificent Thing (Ashley Spires)

Book cover: The Most Magnificent Thing

A little girl decides that she is going to build the most magnificent thing along with the help of her very best friend, her dog. She knows exactly how it will look and exactly how it’ll work, only making the most magnificent thing turns out to be a lot harder than she anticipated. Together, the duo tries and tries again with absolutely no luck. The girl becomes frustrated and gets mad, and eventually explodes! That’s when her canine assistant suggests a walk. It doesn’t seem to help all that much at first, but as they circle back and see all of their failed attempts, she realizes that there are a lot of great parts hidden within those previous attempts. And so, she sets off to work again — tinkering and hammering and gluing and painting. The end result isn’t perfect, but it’s just what she wanted! Ages 3 to 7.

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Rosie Revere, Engineer (Andrea Beaty and David Roberts)

Book cover: Rosie Revere, Engineer

Rosie has big dreams of becoming a great engineer and spends her time proudly creating machines until one day, the uncle she most adores laughs hysterically at one of her creations. Rosie decides to keep her dreams to herself after that. It’s not until an aunt needs help with a special project that Rosie has the courage to push her fear aside. She fails again, but learns her most valuable lesson — true failure only comes if you quit. Ages 4 and up.

The Dot (Peter H. Reynolds)

Book cover: The Dot

Convinced she just can’t draw, Vashti sits through her entire art class with a blank piece of paper in front of her. When her teacher suggests that she just make a mark and sees where it takes her, she gives the paper a frustrated jab with marker, signs her name and leaves. The next week, she arrives at class to a surprise: her mark is hung in a swirly gold frame on the wall! And so begins Vashti’s journey of self-discovery. She works hard, she tries new things and eventually she puts together a collection of pieces that make quite a splash at the school art show. In the end, not only does Vashti discover that she can do hard things when she sets her mind to it, but she also ends up inspiring others to do the same. Ages 4 and up.

The Bad Seed (Jory John and Pete Oswald)

Book cover: The Bad Seed

The bad seed is really baaaaad. He doesn’t return his shopping carts, he cuts in line, he lies and he never washes his hands. This behaviour all began when his flower lost its petals, toppled over and sent him and all of his family members tumbling to the ground. The seed found himself alone and changed, for the worst. One day, the seed feels a slight shift and decides that he’s done being bad and wants to change. It’s not easy, but with a lot of effort and persistence, the bad seed begins his journey of not being all that bad at all. Ages 4 to 8.

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Ada Twist, Scientist (Andrea Beaty and David Roberts)

Book cover: Ada Twist, Scientist

After uttering her first word — “why?” — at the age of three, the floodgates are opened and Ada is, from then on, a whirlwind of questions. She yearns to know how things work, why things are the way they are and what causes things to do the things they do. While her curiosity often leads to failed hypotheses, flopped tests, chaos and even some resistance from those around her, Ada persists and eventually wins the support of her parents, teacher and classmates too. Ages 4 to 8.

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It (JoAnn Deak and Sarah Ackerley)

Book cover: Your Fantastic Elastic Brain

Colourful illustrations fill the pages of this non-fiction book all about the parts and functions of the brain. At the heart of its message is the fact that you can help your brain grow faster and become more powerful by learning new things and thus, giving your brain a good workout. Readers are encouraged to S-T-R-E-T-C-H their brains and make mistakes along the way. Ages 4 to 10.

Article Author Jen Kossowan
Jen Kossowan

See all of Jen's posts.

Jen is a teacher, blogger, and mama to a spirited little lady and a preemie baby boy. She's passionate about play, loves a good DIY project, adores travelling, and can often be found in the kitchen creating recipes that meet her crunchy mama criteria. You can follow Jen on her blog, Mama.Papa.Bubba, and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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