Growth mindset read alouds are an invaluable resource as you get ready to introduce the concept of having a growth mindset to your students. After all, what does it look like to have a growth mindset? How does it sound?
These are the first questions I pose to my class as we learn new content and explore new materials. Especially because I know that many of my students will want to be “perfect” right away. We consider growth mindset to encompass the following:
- Believe that you can learn and improve on skills with practice
- Acceptance of challenges as ways to learn and grow, even if failure is involved
- Acceptance of feedback as a way to help rather than criticize
- The belief that failure and mistakes are opportunities for growth
Having a growth mindset isn’t intuitive for most students. We live in a world that rewards “perfection.” And while many of us know that perfection isn’t achievable, we still strive for it. To counteract the perfectionist tendencies, Kids need ample examples of what a growth mindset looks and sounds like. But how do you achieve that?
Read alouds! Growth mindset read alouds are an excellent way to introduce growth mindset. They are also a crucial component of ongoing discussions about growth mindset all year long. Growth mindset read alouds provide examples of what fixed vs. growth mindsets look like. They even show how to evolve from a fixed to a growth mindset.
There are so many excellent books that show how developing a growth mindset helps in challenging, growth situations. Today, I’ve narrowed down my list to ten of my favorite growth mindset read alouds.
Important Note: The purpose of a growth mindset is to support growth. Perseverance is not always appropriate. Growth mindset should always be approached with a trauma-informed, student-centered lens. Each student is different and comes into your classroom with a unique set of skills and experiences. When you ask a student to “keep going” keep in mind that each student has different needs. Some areas to keep in mind:
- Hunger and food access
- Past and present trauma
- Social-emotional needs
- Hard moments at home (that can change daily)
- Appropriate levels of challenge for each individual student
You can click on any of the pink book titles below for an Amazon affiliate link, where you can find a full summary and reviews of each book. If you happen to order a book from the link provided, I earn a small percentage of that sale, which goes towards the maintenance of my blog.
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
A growth mindset book about facing fears and overcoming personal challenges
Jabari Jumps is an absolute favorite growth mindset read-aloud in my class. It is always one of the first books we read each year. It tells the story of a young boy, Jabari, who gears himself up to climb the high jump into the pool. Gaia Cornwall walks us through Jabari’s actions and emotions as he gets in line and slowly approaches his turn. When it is finally his turn, Jabari backs away. He isn’t ready. But that’s okay. His father lets him know that he can always try again. And, he does. He overcomes his fears and jumps into the pool. In trying something that seemed so hard in the beginning, he realizes he loves it.
Bonus- it is an excellent example of a small moment narrative for Writer’s Workshop 🙂
Jabari Tries by Gaia Cornwall
A growth mindset read-aloud about perseverance and the power of accepting help
Jabari Tries is another instant classic by Gaia Cornwall. In the book, Jabari is frustrated when trying to build a machine. He has to persevere despite many failed attempts. His failures are growing and causing Jabari great frustration. Finally, he accepts help from his little sister. Together, they keep trying. After hard work and hard feelings, a machine is born!
One of my favorite aspects of Jabari Tries is the acceptance of help. Often, my students see feedback and help from peers as a failure in itself. This book emphasizes that we do our best work with a little bit of perseverance and the support of others.
Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg
A growth mindset read-aloud about the beauty of mistakes
Beautiful Oops is a book about how every mistake has potential. From a ripped piece of paper to a smear of paint, every accident can become something beautiful. Barney Saltzberg encourages us to see how a mistake is a door to opportunity.
Beautiful Oops is one of the first books I read to my class each year. As we learn how to use our classroom materials, one at a time, students are bound to “mess up.” Beautiful Oops becomes a mantra to keep going, even if it wasn’t what you had initially planned.
Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
A growth mindset read-aloud about overcoming the need to be “perfect”
Ish tells the story of a young boy, Ramon, who loves to draw. One day, his brother comes along and starts to laugh at his artwork. Ramon can’t get the laughter out of his head. It haunts him as he draws, furiously trying to create the perfect artwork. Little does he know his younger sister is collecting his drawings. Her admiration despite imperfection leads them to a beautiful term: Ish. Without the need to be perfect, Ramon starts to live life Ish-ly, thoroughly enjoying all of his creative endeavors.
What lesson can’t you teach with the book Ish? The story shows perseverance, emphasizes creative expression for the sake of enjoyment, and the power of accepting positive feedback. Ish also shows the damage of belittling another’s artwork.
After the Fall by Dan Santat
A growth mindset read-aloud about picking yourself up and trying again
Are you familiar with the old children’s rhyme Humpty Dumpty? Ever wonder what happened after the fall? He was put back together, and then what? In After the Fall, Dan Santat imagines the emotional and physical trials that Humpty Dumpty needs to overcome to get back up the wall. His fall, which was an accident, has left him with a serious case of height fright. But, he embraces the challenge and doesn’t let this one failure get in the way of growing. In the end, Humpty Dumpty does make it back up the wall. This new addition to the old nursery rhyme leads to a wonderful twist.
Graphic Organizers to Use with ANY Text
The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires
A Growth Mindset Book About Trying Even When It’s Hard
“Not Yet” is one of my favorite growth mindset phrases. The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do exemplifies this attitude. Lou’s friends all decide to climb up a tree. Lou doesn’t know how to do climb it. She tries to make up excuses but eventually admits that she “can’t.” Her friends offer to help. But Lou doesn’t want it. She is about to give up when her friends call out to her. She decides that it is time to try. And she does. But it doesn’t work. So, she keeps trying. And even at the end of the book, Lou can’t climb up the tree. At least, “Not Yet.”
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
A Growth Mindset Book About Shifting Perspective
The Most Magnificent Thing is about a young girl and her canine companion who set off to make the “most magnificent thing”. They have the tools, plans, and materials to get started. They work hard. And yet, nothing goes right. The feeling of failure is very frustrating for her. But, after she calms herself down, steps away from her “failure,” and then takes another look at it, she notices that there is more “right” than she realizes. Taking a moment to breathe and clear her mind allowed her to return to her project with fresh eyes, see what she needs to do and keep going.
There Might Be Lobsters by Carolyn Crimi and Laurel Molk
A Growth Mindset Book About Overcoming Fears
There Might Be Lobsters puts fears in perspective with heartwarming humor. It tells the story of a dog, Sukie, who is riddled with fear at the beach. He sits with his stuffed animal, afraid to go onto the sand and into the water. His human keeps trying to encourage Sukie to play on the sand and in the water, however, there are many scary possibilities and Sukie isn’t willing to risk them. But then, Sukie’s stuffed animal, Chunka Monka, is carried out to see. Sukie has no choice but to jump in the water and save him.
The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken
A Growth Mindset Book About Seeing Mistakes as Opportunities
Have you ever noticed how hard some students are on themselves when illustrating a story? I certainly have. The Book of Mistakes is the perfect growth mindset read aloud to introduce a mistake as an opportunity. Corinna Luyken tells and illustrates how one mistake after another led to an amazing piece of work. First, she goes step by step through the artistic process of drawing a picture. She does something “wrong,” but then sees how she can make it right. She adds extra details to a picture to make something look better or finds a creative way to cover up what she doesn’t like.
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Gary Rubinstein
A growth mindset read-aloud about the positive side of making mistakes
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes tells the story of a girl named Beatrice who is known in her town for never having made a mistake. She does everything perfectly. But then, she almost does make a mistake! When Beatrice almost makes a mistake, she can’t stop thinking about it. The idea of making a mistake was just too scary. Finally, it is the night of her talent show performance. When it is her turn, she makes a mistake and her whole act is ruined. But what does she do? She laughs! It turns out that making a mistake isn’t so bad. Often, students develop a fixed mindset because they are afraid of imperfection. This story is an excellent example of how to take mistakes lightly. And, how making mistakes leads to more enjoyment in life.
I hope these titles inspire you and your students to value mistakes, ignite perseverance and use the phrase “not yet.” Since I’m always looking to grow, I would love to know how these or other read-alouds have helped foster growth mindset principles in your classroom.