Picture books are an important part of my character education lessons for perseverance!
These picture books are great read alouds for morning meetings or any time you focus on social-emotional learning!
I love using each one as a springboard for a discussion about having perseverance and how we need to keep trying and be determined, even when things get hard!
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Songbird by Jenn Larson (that’s me!) is a story about Sydney Sparrow, a small bird with an out-of-the-ordinary dream! Sydney wants to become a conductor after hearing the New York Philharmonic Orchestra play in Central Park near her home. With some courage and lots of determination, she works hard to make her dream come true.
I LOVE using this as a discussion about how to set a goal and work hard to make that dream come true!
2. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett is a humorous picture book in which boys Sam and Dave embark on a quest to find that spectacular something. In the book, they start to dig, and dig, and dig, until they find… absolutely nothing!
This book is a great book to share with students about how failures are part of the journey and may lead us to new understandings and insights along the way.
Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld is a cute picture book about a small cloud who is able to do big things, with lots of work and pure determination!
4. Jabari Jumps
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwell is about a young boy, Jabari, who has tried and tried to find the courage to jump off the big diving board. One day, after finishing swimming lessons, he decides to try one more time! His friends wonder, will he make it this time?
5. The Most Magnificent Thing
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires is a charming story in which a girl and her dog set out to make the most magnificent thing. Feeling defeated after much hard work and lots of failures along the way, the girl goes for a walk and soon realizes what she must do to succeed!
6. Flight School
Flight School by Lita Judge is the fun tale of an eager penguin who is determined to fly. Penguin has a clear goal and is tenacious as he enrolls in flight school to make his dreams come true.
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers is a silly but fun story of a little boy whose kite gets stuck up a tree. At first, he tries to get his kite down by throwing a shoe at it, but then it gets stuck too.
Students love this book and its surprise ending. It’s a great book to use as inspiration for a “chain of events” type of narrative writing.
8. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Bryan Mealer and William Kamkwamba, is a heart-warming true story about how fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba figured out how to build a windmill to bring electricity to his village during a terrible drought. You’ll enjoy this amazing story of determination!
9. A Chair for My Mother
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams is based on a true story and is written in memory of the author’s mother. In Williams’ colorful picture book, she writes about a family whose home is destroyed by a fire. Rosa, her mother, and grandmother work together to save their coins to buy a comfortable chair they’ll all enjoy.
10. Joan Proctor, Dragon Doctor
Joan Proctor, Dragon Doctor by Joan Valdez is a picture book biography about scientist Joan Procter. Procter, named Curator of Reptiles at the British Museum, works tirelessly to learn about reptiles and forms a lifelong bond with a Komodo Dragon in the process.
I hope these read alouds have given you a few new ideas for some mentor texts to share with your students.
Besides mentor texts, I love to do other social-emotional activities in the classroom.
This Perseverance Unit includes discussion task cards, a self-reflection quiz, a mentor text list, a perseverance activities page, a sort, a character trait poster, perseverance awards, and detailed teacher notes. To find out more, CLICK HERE.
If you’d like to take a look at the very complete Character Education Unit, which has enough materials to help you teach Character Education for the entire year, CLICK HERE
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