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Resilience in the Classroom: Stories about Overcoming Adversity in Picture Books
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Resilience in the Classroom: Stories about Overcoming Adversity in Picture Books

Children’s picture books about overcoming adversity are a powerful tool for teaching resilience and determination in the classroom. These inspiring picture books can help your students build resilience and learn valuable life lessons. So join us as we explore some of our favorite picture books and discover how they can help your students overcome adversity and achieve their goals.

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Why Use Picture Books about Overcoming Adversity in the Classroom?

Reading picture books about overcoming challenges with resilience in the classroom can benefit teachers and students:

Develops resilience: Picture books about overcoming adversity help students develop resilience and bounce back from setbacks. By seeing characters in the books overcome obstacles and challenges, students can learn strategies for coping with difficult situations.

Fosters empathy and understanding: Picture books about overcoming adversity can help students develop empathy and understanding towards others facing challenges. This creates a supportive and inclusive classroom environment.

Encourages problem-solving skills: Reading picture books about overcoming adversity helps students develop problem-solving skills by encouraging them to think creatively about how to solve problems.

Builds literacy skills: Reading picture books about overcoming adversity can help students develop literacy skills such as reading comprehension, vocabulary, and critical thinking.

Inspires motivation and perseverance: Stories about resilience inspire motivation and perseverance in students by showing them they can overcome obstacles and achieve their goals with hard work and determination. This helps students develop a growth mindset and a belief in their own abilities to succeed.

Stories About Resilience

The Benefits of Using Picture Books About Overcoming Adversity

Drawing on vivid illustrations and inviting stories, picture books about overcoming adversity can offer children a roadmap for better understanding and coping with difficult situations. 

By helping children tap into their courage and determination, these books can teach them to persevere in adversity.

Through vibrant stories and dynamic illustrations, these books help children deal with life’s curve balls creatively and adaptively. You will learn about the benefits of using picture books to teach resilience and be presented with the best titles to include in your classroom library.

Picture books can often be overlooked as a powerful tool to help students build resilience when facing challenges. For young minds, these books can be a great way to help them understand and process the difficulty of life with stories that foster an understanding of the importance of resilience. With these books, you can show students that no matter what they face, they can be resilient and push through with strength.

What You Will See in These Picture Books About Overcoming Adversity

Reading stories about resilience lets your students see characters in difficult situations and use different strategies to push through them. They are great discussion starters to bring up the benefits of being resilient, including:

  • managing emotions appropriately
  • asking for help when needed 
  • using judgement to change tack in difficult situations
  • having a positive mindset
  • expressing ideas and opinions confidently
  • reflecting on their behaviour and strengths
  • listening attentively and following instructions
  • working cooperatively, sharing and taking turns
  • understanding why they feel frustrated.

Questions to Pair with Picture Books About Overcoming Adversity

  • How can you develop resilience in the face of challenges?
  • What effective strategies can be used to overcome obstacles in the classroom?
  • What are some common challenges do your peers face, and how can they be overcome with resilience?
  • Can you give an example of how a teacher can model student resilience and perseverance?
  • Is having a growth mindset important in building resilience in the classroom? Why or why not?
  • What strategies can you develop to face challenges as a student? 
  • What effective strategies do you know for overcoming obstacles in the classroom?
  • What are your thoughts on the importance of having a growth mindset in building resilience in the classroom?

Picture Books About Overcoming Adversity

These stories about resilience show different characters responding to knock-backs and ultimately triumphing.

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Dan Santat

A fresh retelling of the classic Humpty Dumpty story told from the egg’s perspective. Humpty Dumpty bravely faces his fear of heights, teaching us about courage, overcoming adversity, and the importance of self-esteem. His perseverance and resilience paint an inspiring picture of the triumph of determination over fear.

After the Fall promotes discussions around character traits, perspectives, and a growth mindset. It encourages students to understand and embrace their fears, foster adaptability, and celebrate resilience.

The Bear and the Wildcat by Kazumi Yumoto

Bear is devastated when he finds his friend, Bird, dead. Overwhelmed with grief, he isolates himself from the world, unable to cope with his loss. As spring arrives, Bear encounters Wildcat, who offers him companionship and understanding. This new friendship gradually guides Bear towards accepting his loss and starting the grieving process. 

Translated from Japanese, The Bear and the Wildcat explores complex themes like acceptance, grieving, self-management, and the transformative power of friendships.

Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli by Kyo Maclear

Growing up with parents disapproving of her looks, Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli became a passionate advocate of unconventional beauty. She collaborated with the surrealist art movement and created daring designs. 

With her incredible drive and determination, Elsa persevered against all the odds and made a name for herself as a designer with an imaginative and unique style. Elsa showed resilience and courage and achieved remarkable things against all odds.

The Can Caravan by Richard O'Neill

Janie is on a mission to help her neighbour, Mrs. Tolen, find a new home when she breaks her hip. With the support of a Traveller community, they transform Mrs. Tolen’s old caravan into a safe and secure dwelling. This story highlights resilience, adaptability, loyalty, independence, and the importance of recycling and teamwork.

A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams

A Chair for My Mother illuminates the power of love, family, and community even in the most challenging times. Rosa, her mother, and her grandmother lose their home to a devastating fire.

The book gives us a glimpse into poverty, the importance of saving money, the impact of community kindness and generosity, and the power of perseverance, even in the face of adversity.

Chef Edna: Queen of Southern Cooking, Edna Lewis by Melvina Noel

Edna was a chef, a trailblazer, and the “Queen of Southern Cooking”. She came from a small town called Freetown, Virginia, and she changed the world of cooking. She taught America how to make delicious dishes like Hot Buttered Biscuits, Fried Chicken, and Peach Cobbler. She became the first African American cookbook author published by a mainstream publishing house. 

Coming to England: An Inspiring True Story Celebrating the Windrush Generation by Baroness Floella Benjamin

Baroness Benjamin recalls her journey from Trinidad to London as a ten-year-old, and how she overcame adversity, embraced hope, and demonstrated determination to build a new life in a new country. She went on to educate millions of children on TV and become a member of the House of Lords.

This book is a powerful tool to teach children about the experiences and contributions of Black people to British society, and inspire them to be resilient and hopeful in the face of adversity.

The Day Saida Arrived by Susana Gómez Redondo

When Saida, a new girl from Morocco, arrives in class, her silence is misunderstood for a loss of words. But as her classmate learns about Saida’s native language, Arabic, they embark on a journey of cultural understanding and friendship.

The Day Saida Arrived explores the experiences of immigration and adjusting to new environments, the importance of communication and language exchange, open-mindedness in embracing different cultures, empathy and respect in fostering inclusivity.

The Day War Came by Nicola Davies

A resilient girl navigates a world torn apart by conflict. After being rejected from a school, she finds hope in the empathetic gesture of a young boy – offering her a chair, a place to learn and belong. 

The Day War Came illustrates the harsh realities faced by children impacted by war, highlighting the struggles of immigration, the strength in perseverance, and the courage that stems from resilience.