Teach kids the importance of perseverance with these books – both fiction and non-fiction – that illustrate why staying with a goal, despite challenges or setbacks, can be so very gratifying.
Such a huge word both in letters and meaning.
And yet, being able to stick with something to reach a desired goal or destination is such an essential skill for success in life.
What if Nelsen Mandela had stopped resisting his government’s apartheid after 27 years imprisonment?
Or Einstein had stopped studying after his teachers said he was mentally handicapped due to not speaking until he was 4 or reading until he was 7?
And then there is Vincent Van Gogh who easily could have assumed his artwork was worthless given the criticism he’d received over his lifetime.
Being able to persevere through difficulty and rise above, is a key to progressing in life. And while life experience teaches the most valuable lessons, hearing stories of others who have demonstrated perseverance can encourage kids when faced with their own challenges.
The following fourteen books contain stories of people from all walks of life – some stories are true and some are fictional, some are whimsy while others are serious, but all contain stories your kids will love as they take in the important messages they convey.
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14 Children’s Books About Perseverance
Michael feels the reason he isn’t very good at basketball is because he’s short. His mother suggests he put salt in his shoes and say a prayer to help him grow. But months go by and he still isn’t any taller. Finally, while talking to his father, Michael learns that being taller isn’t everything – it’s practice, determination and giving your best will that really make the difference. And the rest of Michael Jordan’s story is history…
A girl sets out to make the most magnificent thing – it should be easy enough, right? She knows exactly how it will work, all she has to do is make it. But making this most magnificent thing turns out to be anything but easy and she tries and fails repeatedly. Eventually, she gets really mad and decides to quit. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, the girl comes back to her project with a new perspective and manages to get it just right.
Little penguin is determined to fly – he’s seen other birds fly, so why can’t he? He joins a flight school to learn how and while he remains at the bottom of the class, he still doesn’t give up his determination and dream of flying. Finally, with a little help with the technical parts, little penguin fulfills his dream of flying.
Luigi is the fastest barefoot runner on Regent Street in Philadelphia. He’s beat everyone – even Mikey from another neighborhood who is also considered fast. But then Luigi is faced with a real challenge – one that is even a little scary – as his title of fastest barefoot runner is challenged.
A girl, her mother, and grandmother lost all of their furniture in a fire and now dedicate themselves to saving their spare change to save up for an easy chair. Their dedication to the goal pays off and the mother finally has a comfortable chair to relax in in the evenings after a hard day at work. This book is a classic and also on the New York Public Library’s 100 Great Children’s Books list.
Grace loves stories – all kinds of stories – and after she hears them she usually acts them out, often giving herself the most exciting role. So when Grace’s teacher tells the class they’re going to perform the play Peter Pan, Grace knows exactly who she wants to be. But other kids disagree: “You can’t be Peter – that’s a boy’s name.” her classmate Raj says. Natalie tells Grace she can’t be Peter Pan because she’s black. At home, Grace’s mom and grandmother try to help her overcome her discouragement and rebuild Grace’s confidence just in time for auditions. In the end, Grace learns that staying true to her dream – despite what others think or believe – pays off.
Irene is given the task to deliver a gown to the duchess, the only problem is that a fierce snowstorm is brewing and the wind howling. But Irene sets out on her mission anyway. Through great adversity, Irene finally makes it to the palace and is rewarded with a hot meal, amazement, kind words, and the satisfaction of having completed her mission.
The Noisy Paint Box is the story of Vasily Kandinsky and his path to becoming one of the first abstract artists. While the dialogue is imagined, the facts are true – such as Kandinsky’s ability to feel colors as sounds and sounds as colors. Kids see how Kandinsky’s art wasn’t accepted at first but with enough perseverance, persistence, and breaking from the norm, he eventually broke through to become a famous artist.
In this simple story, Bert, a bird, is a little nervous to jump off of a branch into the water below. He contemplates what he’s doing and finally takes a leap, to find that what at first appeared scary wasn’t so bad after all.
The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau tells the story of Henri Rousseau, who first began painting at 40 years old. The book illustrates Rousseau’s dedication to learning about art, despite having never taken art classes. And his determination to keep perfecting his craft, despite continuous criticism from art experts. It’s not until Rousseau is 61 that artists begin to recognize the value of his work. Kids will not only learn about this famous artist but also see how staying true to oneself and not letting defeat get in the way allowed Rousseau to become the famous artist he is today.
A boy has a dream to catch a star. He tries everything he can to catch a star – jump up and grab it, use a life preserver as a lasso, and then thinks of other possibilities like using a spaceship or getting a seagull to help. In the end, the boy’s wish comes true in a somewhat unexpected way.
Colorful Dreamer is the story of Henri Matisse and how he struggled through life to become a famous artist. As a boy, Henri was considered a dreamer, with no future or potential. And while he continued to paint, his parents held no hope for his success. But as he traveled the world and continued to pursue his passion of painting, more and more people noticed. And when he was ill and no longer able to paint, Henri began creating art from cutouts of colored pieces of paper. This story shows how determination and perseverance – even after experiencing a disability – pays off.
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