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Picture Books for Teaching Growth Mindset

The concept of a growth mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck and popularized in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. When children have a growth mindset, they believe their abilities can be developed through dedication hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. Here are some of our favorite growth mindset books for kids, all of which can help jumpstart conversations about failure, risk-taking, and persistence.
DianeYouth Services Librarian

After the Fall by Dan Santat

After falling off the wall, Humpty Dumpty is very afraid of climbing up again, but is determined not to let fear stop him from being close to the birds.

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

As one artist incorporates accidental splotches, spots, and misshapen things into her art, she transforms her piece in quirky and unexpected ways, taking readers on a journey through her process. This story shows readers that even the biggest “mistakes” can be the source of the brightest ideas—and that, at the end of the day, we are all works in progress, too.

Brave Irene by William Steig

Plucky Irene, a dressmaker’s daughter, braves a fierce snowstorm to deliver a new gown to the duchess in time for the ball.

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Vashti thinks she can’t draw, but her journey of self discovery and expression is an enchanting invitation to everyone to explore his or her own creative spirit.

Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson

Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people–but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability.

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Since his skinny legs won’t cooperate when he wants to get down and boogie, Gerald the giraffe dreads going to the Great Jungle Dance, until he discovers his own unique rhythm.

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein

Beatrice is so well-known for never making a mistake that she is greeted each morning by fans and reporters, but a near-error on the day of the school talent show could change everything.

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki

Hana Hashimoto has signed up to play her violin at her school’s talent show. The trouble is, she’s only a beginner, and she’s had only three lessons. Hana’s confidence wavers on the night of the show, but then Hana surprises everyone once it’s her turn to perform — even herself!

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

Once there was a boy, and that boy loved stars very much. So much so that he decided to catch one of his very own. But how? Waiting for them to grow tired from being up in the sky all night doesn’t work. Climbing to the top of the tallest tree? No, not tall enough. The boy has a rocket ship . . . but it is made of paper and doesn’t fly well at all. Finally, just when the boy is ready to give up, he learns that sometimes things aren’t where, or what, we expect them to be.

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

Ramon loses confidence in his ability to draw, but his sister gives him a new perspective on things.

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. Will Jabari ever jump?

Jabari Tries by Gaia Cornwall

Jabari is making a flying machine all by himself, but when it doesn’t work the way he imagined, he learns about perseverance and problem-solving.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

A girl decides to build the most magnificent thing. It’ll be easy, or so she thinks, until she starts running into difficulty. After stepping away from the problems, she calmly returns and is able to finish her creation!

The OK Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

A character enumerates a great many things that they enjoy doing, although not great at any of them, knowing that someday they will excel at something.

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Rosie Revere dreamed of becoming a great engineer. Where some people see rubbish, Rosie sees inspiration. Alone in her room at night, shy Rosie constructs great inventions from odds and ends. Hot dog dispensers, helium pants, python-repelling cheese hats: Rosie’s gizmos would astound—if she ever let anyone see them.

Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges

In China, at a time when few girls are taught to read or write, Ruby dreams of going to the university with her brothers and male cousins.

What Do You Do With a Chance? by Kobi Yamada

In this story, a child is visited by his first chance and unsure what to do with it, he lets it go. Later on, when a new chance arrives he reaches for it, but this time he misses and falls. Embarrassed and afraid, he begins ignoring each new chance that comes by, even though he still wants to take them. Then one day he realizes that he doesn’t need to be brave all the time, just at the right time, to find out what amazing things can happen when he takes a chance.

When Sophie Thinks She Can’t by Molly Bang

When Sophie can’t solve a math puzzle, she feels upset and inadequate. “I CAN’T DO IT!” she shouts! Maybe she isn’t smart at all. Luckily Sophie’s teacher steps in. What does it mean to be smart? Struggling to solve a problem doesn’t mean “I can’t do it!” Sophie and her classmates just can’t do it… yet!

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