As the school year is about to commence, picture books are a valuable resource to share with children when learning about a growth mindset. These three picture books promote perseverance, fortitude, the idea of exploring opportunities when something does not go to plan, that there is beauty and power in failing and never giving up in the face of adversity in order to achieve success.
With the new year looming, many children are about to start school for the first time, be in unfamiliar situations and navigate unchartered territory. ‘Trying’ by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Elise Hurst is a timely picture book to share with young people who are about to begin new chapters in their lives as this story is an engaging way to promote a growth mindset. This story sensitively explores the idea of trying, failing and persevering when things don’t go to plan, while highlighting the beauty and power in failing. The overall message, shared in a grounded way, is one of not letting fear stand in the way of attempting something new, seizing opportunities and persevering through obstacles. This message is shared in a gentle way without being overly didactic. This book contains many quotes which lend themselves to discussions about grit, tenacity, resilience and inspires readers to change any negative narrative or connotations they may have about failure. The story unfolds as a young boy observes a sculptor at work. The boy wants to create such works of art but doubts his ability to do so. The sculptor then offers words of wisdom and gently challenges the boy to try, while sharing his own sculpting journey, experiences and vulnerability. Elise Hurst’s alluring; mostly black, grey and white illustrations add another rich layer to this story. This is a book that shows failure is not the end of the story and through failure so much can be gained – lessons, opportunities as well as development of personal qualities such as courage. Failure is not something to be ashamed of, failures mean you tried and are a part of everyone’s story.
‘Izzy and Gizmo’ written by Pip Jones and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie is an empowering story about persevering through challenges and learning from mistakes. After all, each mistake is one step closer to success. In this story, Isabelle’s resourcefulness and creativity knows no bounds when it comes to her inventions and she enjoys creating gadgets, with very interesting names. Her mind is often thinking of ways to repurpose items and create something new, so she always has her tool bag at the ready. All of her inventions have lots of components and sometimes this means they don’t work as she imagined. This frustrates Izzy and makes her feel like giving up. However, her wise and encouraging Grandpa teaches her that in order to succeed she must keep trying.
Izzy finds herself with a particularly great challenge when a very likeable crow, full of spunk, loses its ability to fly and needs her help. Izzy knows she needs to invent something to help the crow return to the skies. This is not an easy task to achieve. Her ideas require modifications and lots of problem solving if they are to succeed. Will Izzy give up, or will her imagination and determination drive her to invent a creation to help the crow fly?
This engaging story is told in rhyme and contains sophisticated language. The lively, detailed illustrations make you smile and add another layer to this story with themes that include tenacity, resilience, growth mindset, creativity, empathy, team work and taking responsibility for your actions.
‘How to Solve a Problem – The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion’ by Ashima Shiraishi and illustrated by Yao Xiao is a true story from Ashima, the best teenage rock climber in the world. She shares her experiences about the grit, fortitude, strength, discipline and perseverance required to tackle a climbing challenge. In this book, Ashima creatively explores her boulder problems and compares them to challenges that people may face in their everyday lives. Throughout this story there is a message to “learn from your falls” and use them to inform and propel you forward, while never giving up. This book serves as an inspiring blueprint for creatively and patiently solving problems, visualising an approach when encountering a problem, seeing the possibilities in obstacles and growing from falls. The illustrations sweep you onto the boulders with Ashima and capture Ashima’s steely determination, focus and analytical skills.