Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Picture Book 10 for 10 - Picture Books That Support the Growth Mindset

     I'm excited to participate in Cathy Mere's and Mandy Robek's August 10 for 10 Picture Book Event!  This my 5th year to participate.  Check out the huge Google + community!

     Our building principal chose Mindset: The New Psychology of Success for our staff book study this year, and I've really enjoyed the concepts author,  Carol Dweck, Ph.D. teaches us.   The major concepts about adapting and honing a growth mindset are:
1.  We need to look at obstacles, challenges, and problems as opportunities to learn and grow.
2. Mistakes and failures are normal - what can we learn from them? How can they make us change and grow?
3.  Hard work is more important than talent (as teachers we need to guard against praise for talent and give specific, not evaluative, feedback).
4. A fixed mindset can cause despair and/or superiority.

I am a gifted intervention specialist for 5th and 6th grade ELA.  A good number of my  5th graders struggle when they first get to my class.  I have students who cry or shut down when given difficult tasks or specific feedback for improvement.  I think they're very used to high praise.  Many of them are perfectionists and don't want to make any mistakes or be told they could grow to be better writers, readers, etc. They either think they're already "perfect" or they despair at not being smart enough to do the work I expect.  I know they're not perfect AND I know they can work hard enough to achieve what I think they can.  The growth mindset model is very important for gifted learners (and of course, every learner).  They can make mistakes, continue to grow, and continue to be commended for hard work, not talent/intelligence alone.  These books show how mistakes can be made into opportunities, hard work and persistence pay off, and circumstances and talent don't control destinies.  

These  picture books can promote and teach a growth mindset:


Float by Daniel Miyares

Lost. Found.

Lost. Found. by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School
With Books and Bricks:How Booker T. Washington Built a School by Suzanne Buckingham Slade, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell

"Success is to be measured not so much by the position one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed." - Booker T. Washington

Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport


Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by Rafael Lopez 


Whoosh!  Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton, illustrated by Don Tate

The Fantastic Ferris Wheel: The Story of Inventor George Ferris

The Fantastic Ferris Wheel: The Story of Inventor George Ferris by Betsy Harvey Kraft, illustrated by Steven Salerno


What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobe Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom

Rosie Revere, Engineer

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

The Most Magnificent Thing

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

Okay, one more that cannot be forgotten!

Beautiful Oops!

Beautiful Oops! by Barney Salzberg

BONUS (One that came out early July, but I haven't read yet, by the same author who wrote What Do You Do With An Idea?! - I know it has to be fabulous for growth mindset!)

What Do You Do with a Problem?

What Do You Do With A Problem?

Also (yes, it's always hard to stop at 10), it's important to adapt a growth mindset after grief/ loss or depression/anxiety so I think these picture books give us hope and resilience.  Plus, I always have to have an excuse to put my all-time favorite picture book on a list like this - it's amazing how many categories it fits!

The Red Tree

The Red Tree by Shaun Tan

City Dog, Country Frog

City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon J. Muth

Yes, this is my all-time favorite picture book.   

I'd love to hear any additional picture books you think would promote a growth mindset!


  1. Holly, I really like your list but also love how you shared how truly relevant these titles are for learners of all kinds by explaining what the fall looks like for some of your new students.

  2. These are wonderful books, Holly. Ada's Violin is one that I've just ordered, and I'm looking forward to reading this with my sixth graders.

  3. Those are all awesome books. I've added the Booker T. Washington book to my To Read list. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wonderful books, Holly! I love your theme and how relevant the books are for your students. Ada's violin is one of my favorites for the fall - such an incredible and inspiring story. City Dog, Country Frog is another one of my very favorite books. Thank you!

  5. It's terrific how you are thinking about gifted learners, and really all learners. I taught gifted children for a long time, and they do find it challenging to persist when they believe they might not succeed. Great list, Holly, there are a couple of books new to me and thanks for them. Isn't Lost.Found clever?

  6. Lots of new titles for us to check out --thank you!!! Also thank you for the last two --always good to have some title suggestions for people. Love it.
    Clare and Tammy

  7. Holly,
    I enjoyed hearing your perspective on your gifted learners. These titles you shared will certainly help promote discussions of growth mindset.


  8. Last year, I was so blessed to be able to focus a lot on Mindset in the general classroom. I saw to the right you were reading Mindset. Kristine Mraz also has the great book, Mindset for Learning. I used it a lot last year, and it sat on my desk for reference. Lost.Found has gone on my TBR list. City Dog, Country Frog is my very favorite as well. Just a beautiful, gentle book. Thanks for sharing.

  9. You've got a great list here blending new and old. I often group these books within the framework of divergent thinking. Thanks for giving me a different perspective.
    Apples with Many Seeds

  10. I love checking out the lists and growing my library request list. I'm off to request The Red Tree, Ada's Violin, and Lost.Found. Glad you've had time to read Carol Dweck's book. It will be interesting to see how it fits into the back-to-school discussions and plans of your staff.

  11. This is an incredible post and so applicable for the mindfulness wave going through our schools and families and therapy sessions :) I LOVE all these books. Thank you so much for sharing!!! Ps- Do you have an email or contact option if I wanted to send you a longer email/literay and book question?