Children’s Books about Perseverance and Determination
These children’s books about perseverance show examples of how grit and determination are the ability to push through challenges and give things another go in the face of setbacks.
Perseverance and Determination
Grit, determination and perseverance are the ability to push through challenges. The key to perseverance is motivation, positivity and the courage to see things through to completion no matter the setbacks.
Fostering an attitude of not giving up, resilience and determination help your students develop independence. They are all important attitudes to have throughout life.
Questions to Use With Children’s Books about Perseverance
- When have you shown perseverance?
- Why can it be difficult to persevere? What are the obstacles?
- What characteristics did [character] have that made them able to persevere?
- Why was it important that [character] persevere?
- Do you think [character] could accomplish their task by themselves?
- How can positive relationships with others help us preserve in difficult situations/tasks?
- What does it mean to show perseverance or to be committed?
- How does having determination make a difference to your work or achieving your goals?
- When you try something new how does perseverance help?
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Children’s Books about Perseverance and Determination
These children’s books about perseverance illustrate how hard work and persistence can overcome setbacks. Characters show perseverance and determination and are an example to your students that they can reach their own goals and overcome challenges. The characters overcome various challenges and find different ways of achieving their goals.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
A severe drought in Malawi caused 14-year-old Kamkwamba to drop out of school to save his family money. He researched how he could bring electricity to his village and built a working windmill from scraps.
A book that promotes responsible decision-making, perseverance, a growth mindset and social awareness.
Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker
Katherine Johnson was one of the real-life heroes of the Apollo 13 moon landing because of her mathematical abilities, curiosity and determination.
This biography shows Katherine's journey to becoming an important part of NASA and an inspirational woman in STEM.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
Liam’s curiosity leads him to explore an elevated train track. He discovers dying flowers and begins to nurture them. His dedication pays off when the flowers grow and start spreading over the city.
Promotes the environment, patience and a sense of community.
A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream by Kristy Dempsey
In Harlem, a young girl is inspired by the first African-American prima ballerina, Janet Collins, to make her own dreams come true.
Promotes determination, perseverance, inspiration and overcoming adversity.
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
An art teacher encourages Vashti to make a mark, a dot, prompting Vashti to create a wide range of dot paintings. She displays her work at the school art show and inspires a young boy to make his own unique mark.
Promotes reflection, perseverance, a growth mindset and creativity.
Drummer Girl by Hiba Masood
Najma dreams of being a musaharati, the drummer who wakes families in her Turkish village for the pre-dawn meal during Ramadan. No girl has ever taken on this role and Najma has to show determination and self-belief to follow her dreams.
Promotes courage, overcoming fears, and risk-taking.
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson
People dismissed Emmanuel because of his deformed leg, but his mother’s belief gave him the courage and determination to be himself. As he got older he became a cyclist, eventually cycling 400 miles across Ghana to promote the message that disability is not inability.
Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon by Simran Singh Jeet
Fauja Singh was born with determination and confidence. He overcame a disability in his legs to become a farmer. In his 80s he ran his first marathon, and he was still running them after he turned 100!
Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams
Kondi's determination helps him make a galimoto (toy vehicle made of wires) despite others laughing at his idea. Set in Malawi, this book reinforces the themes of determination, perseverance, recycling and creative thinking.
Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae
Giraffes Can’t Dance? Or can they? Gerald is determined to take part in the annual Jungle dance. While the other animals laugh he shows perseverance, determination, and confidence to follow his dream.
Gobi: A Little Dog with a Big Heart by Dion Leonard
Running a 177-mile race in the Gobi Desert, Dion discovers a little dog running with him. Through trials and tribulations, they finish the race together. Dion names the dog Gobi and takes him home to Scotland.
This true story promotes determination, perseverance, and strength.
Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chiere Uegaki
After three violin lessons, Hana Hashimoto signs up for a local talent show. When she gets on stage her nerves take over but Hana finds her own form of success.
Use this book to discuss determination and a growth mindset.
I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote by Linda Arms White
Linda Arms White depicts Esther Morris as a strong and dynamic woman who, angry that only men can vote in her state of Wyoming, was instrumental in getting the vote for women.
Use to promote a growth mindset, female role models, independence and perseverance.
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Jabari is determined to jump off the diving board but his confidence wanes as he nears the ladder. His patient father reassures Jabari that it is okay to be scared. With new determination, he climbs the ladder and jumps.
Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten by Laura Veirs
Elisabeth Cotten taught herself to play her brother’s right-handed guitar upside down and backwards as she was left-handed. She created her own music as a teenager and composed the song ‘Freight Train’
Read this biography to discuss growth mindset, determination and Black History Month.
The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter
When war comes to Iraq, librarian Alia Muhammad Baker worries about her library and its books. With the help of the community, she starts to move the books to her own home. Through Alia's courage and perseverance, much of the library collection is saved before the library burns down.
Lillian's Right to Vote by Jonah Winter
Lillian, a one-hundred-year-old African American woman, is determined to walk up the steep hill to her polling station to make her voice heard. During her journey, she remembers the difficult voting history of her family. After the passing of the Fifteenth Amendment her great grandfather voted for the first time, she witnessed her parents registering to vote and she marched from Selma to Montgomery.
Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida
Little Kunoichi comes from a ninja family. She attends a secret ninja school for girls but has difficulty training. Her friend, Chibi Samura struggles with samurai practice but he trains with determination. This attitude inspires Little Kunoichi to train for the upcoming Island Festival where they both wow the crowd.
Manjhi Moves a Mountain by Nancy Churnin
Dashrath Manjhi shows how determination, grit and patience can literally move mountains. He uses a hammer and chisel to break through a mountain to a town where people in his village can access schools, health care and running water.
Use this biography to discuss perseverance, determination, inequalities, and sequencing.
Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile by Gloris Houston
A dedicated librarian, Miss Dorothy, creates a bookmobile to deliver library books to her Appalachian neighbours.
Promotes a love of reading, community, compassion and determination.
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
A girl and her canine assistant adjust, examine, tweak, fasten, fix, straighten and study to create the most magnificent thing. But not everything works out the way she imagines.
Promotes creative thinking, self-management, perseverance and a growth mindset.
Nya's Long Walk: A Step at a Time by Linda Sue Park
A young South Sudanese girl goes on a journey that requires determination, perseverance, and compassion. Young Nya takes her little sister Akeer along on the two-hour walk to fetch water for the family. When Akeer becomes too ill to walk, Nya takes one step, then another so she can reach home.
The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard
Mary Walker was born into slavery in 1848, and at the age of 116 she learned to read. She witnessed the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, and through her perseverance, she showed you’re never too old to learn.
One Hundred Steps: The Story of Captain Sir Tom Moore by Captain Tom Moore
Learn about the life of inspirational Captain Tom. During the pandemic, the then 99 year old walked 100 laps of his garden and raised millions of pounds for the NHS.
Use to discuss the positive side of the global pandemic, determination, perseverance and inspiration.
Our Little Inventor by Sher Rill Ng
Nell has an ingenious invention to solve the pollution problem in the Big City. She sets off on a journey to the city, far from where she lives. She finds the pollution is much worse than she expected. Nell is dismayed when she is mocked by city leaders. With unexpected help and Nell’s determination, she shows her machine to the city.
Promotes girls in STEM, pollution, determination, perseverance, critical thinking and problem-solving.
Papa's Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming
Papa is a persistent inventor, though he has had little success in making anything that works. A family trip to Lake Michigan sparks an idea that ends with him creating a submarine the family can use. Based on a true story.
Rainbow Weaver by Linda Elovitz Marshall
Ixchel wants to continue the weaving tradition of her Mayan community. She walks around her village to find items to weave with, but only finds colourful plastic bags. As the bags pile up she decides to cut them into strips and starts weaving them, producing a rainbow fabric.
This bilingual book promotes perseverance, recycling and problem-solving.
Razia's Ray of Hope: One Girl's Dream of an Education by Elizabeth Suneby
A new school opens in a small Afghan village. Razia has to convince her father and brothers that she should attend and follow her dreams of receiving an education. This book is based on true stories from the Zabuli Education Center for Girls.
Ron's Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden
Ron loved visiting his local library to read books about the world of aviation. But the policy of segregation in South Carolina meant he couldn’t take home books. This brave young boy challenged this injustice through determination and peaceful resistance. His success meant that anyone, regardless of background or ethnicity, could have a library card.
Based on a true event in the life of Ron McNair, a scientist and astronaut. He tragically died, along with six others, in the 1986 Challenger explosion.
Running Shoes by Frederick Lipp
Sophy lives in a poor Cambodian village. Her dream of going to school is realised when she receives a pair of running shoes.
This book reinforces themes of determination, perseverance, following our dreams, poverty and education.
Salt in His Shoes by Deloris Jordan
A young Michael Jordon thought about giving up his basketball dream because of his size. His parents shared with him the qualities that make a champion, patience, determination, and hard work.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
Sam and Dave plan to dig up something spectacular but they keep missing their prize. Their dog keeps digging until they all fall down into what seems to be their backyard. But is it?
Promote cooperation, enthusiasm, friendships, perseverance and inference.
She's Got This by Laurie Hernandez
Zoe dreams of becoming a gymnast because it looks like flying. During her first lesson, she learns it will be harder than she ever thought. Zoe perseveres and shows a growth mindset to follow her dream.
Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty
After Sofia’s Abuelo hurts his ankle at the Mount Trashmore, she brainstorms ways to make it safe. She develops a plan to turn it into a park, but when City Hall turns the idea down she gets the community involved to make her dream come true.
Promotes female role models, activism, problem & solution and determination.
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
When Floyd got his kite stuck in a tree he throws his shoes to dislodge it. That doesn’t work so Floyd attempts to use more and more outrageous objects (and people) to free the kite!
Read this cumulative story to discuss cause & effect, problem-solving, perseverance, problem & solution, character traits and resourcefulness.
Tilda Tries Again by Tom Percival
Tilda loves her life, but when it is turned upside down, she wants to give up. Everything seems so hard. She sees a ladybird, stuck on its back, keep trying until it gets back on its feet and flies away. Tilda takes inspiration from this tiny insect and adapts to the changes in her life.
Promotes resilience, problem-solving, adapting to change, different perspectives, not giving up, determination, perseverance, and belief in yourself.
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander
Kwame Alexander’s poem pays tribute to African Americans who fought against injustice by showing determination, passion, grit and courage. Search the illustrations for Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jesse Owens, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and many more.
Voice of Freedom Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford
Fannie Lou Hamer was a champion of equal voting rights, but she had to overcome prejudice, verbal abuse and a beating which nearly killed her. In 1964 she gave a televised speech that prompted people to support the Freedom Democrats.
Told in verse the book shares Fannie Lou Hamer’s life from her tough childhood, showing determination, courage and hope and standing up for social rights.
When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson
A young girl asks her grandmother why she has long braided hair, wears colourful clothes and speaks another language. She learns about her grandmother’s time, along with many other First Nation children, in a Canadian residential school. They were stripped of their Cree culture, which is why she proudly expresses the traditions and language every day.
Use to teach resilience, perseverance, identity and asking questions.
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