For Josh Blackburn, a second-grade teacher in Tennessee, helping his students develop a growth mindset is essential for their long-term development. A growth mindset can help students develop the perseverance to overcome certain challenges inside and outside the classroom.

“Cultivating a growth mindset in your students is integral to their success in academic endeavors and life in general,” says Blackburn. “Students learn about the thought process of telling oneself ‘I just can’t do this yet.’”

Here are three ways your students can use books to learn persistence, perseverance, and the “power of yet” to develop a growth mindset.

1. Dive Into Books About Overcoming Challenges

At the beginning of each school year, Blackburn likes to spend the first few weeks reading fiction books featuring characters who overcome challenges. These stories are a great introduction to a growth mindset, showing it in action with a fun and relatable character, and provide a foundation for further development throughout the year. 

Giraffes Can’t Dance and Leonardo the Terrible Monster are two great stories to start with. After reading, Blackburn recommends discussing with your students how the main character’s attitude and beliefs helped them overcome their obstacles.

2. Explore True Stories of Perseverance

After your students learn how fictional characters overcome challenges, Blackburn suggests introducing your students to true stories of perseverance. This allows them to see how a growth mindset has a great impact in real life scenarios. 

Whether it’s examining how Lonnie Johnson became an aerospace engineer and invented the Super Soaker, or how Raye Montague became the first Naval engineer to design a ship using a computer, tapping into the real-life stories of people who persevered will inspire your young learners to do the same.

3. Read All About the Power of “Yet”

Blackburn encourages his students to set and write down a goal of something they want to learn by the end of the school year — something they can’t do “yet.”

“Throughout the year, I encourage students to keep up their growth mindsets when learning new material," he says. "I always have them remember and repeat the phrase, ‘I can’t do this yet.’ I praise students who show perseverance after struggling with a skill or working through a personal struggle.” 

Reinforce the value of goal-setting and the power of “yet” with stories like Jabari Jumps and The Dot, one of the books in Peter Reynolds' Creatrilogy collection. These are great books to cultivate your students’ growth mindset while inspiring them to persist with their own goals, even if they haven’t quite gotten there, yet!

Shop more books and resources for all ages that encourage a growth mindset below! You can find all books and activities at The Teacher Store.


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