Looking for the greatest children’s books about perseverance and grit? Look no further! I’ve read hundreds of picture books about perseverance, grit and stick-to-it-iveness, and these are the best ones. You can effectively teach perseverance to your elementary students stress-free with these books! This is a great mix of true stories, realistic fiction and fantasy books to dazzle and delight your kids. There are suggested lessons and activities included as well as a free lesson and activities as well!
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The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
A girl has a wonderful idea. She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look, and she knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, though, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right. This book is also a great connection for STEM and is one of my favorite children’s books about growth mindset!
Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed
When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering. She wanted to be an astronaut. Her mom told her, “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.” Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space. Mae perseveres and works from an early age to read her goals of touching the stars.
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The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander
Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.
This is a truly moving project from Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson whose mixture of verse and illustrations make a thought-provoking piece that students and teachers alike could spend weeks analyzing and discussing. This book is everything that is a mentor text making my lists of favorite children’s books of poetry and books for Black History Month!
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. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled, and this book is one of my favorite books about disabilities for kids!
How This Book Was Made by Mac Barnett
Beloved, bestselling creators Mac Barnett and Adam Rex team up again, this time to reveal the nitty gritty process of making a book…with a few unexpected twists along the way!
You may think you know how this book was made, but you don’t. Sure, the author wrote many drafts, and the illustrator took a long time creating the art, but then what? How’d it get into your hands? Well, open the cover and read through these pages to find out. Just beware of the pirates and angry tiger. Budding writers and artists will laugh at the mix of reality and the absurd as the story makes its way to a shelf…and eventually, to a reader.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary — and finding it in a manner you’d never expect. Readers will see that changing plans isn’t always the best idea, but never giving up is what truly helps you accomplish something spectacular.
Akiak by Robert Blake
When she hurts her paw on the fourth day of the race, Akiak can no longer compete in the Iditarod—the famed dogsledding race through 1,151 miles of Alaskan terrain. Her musher has no choice but to leave her behind. The rules say once a dog is dropped from the race, it may not rejoin the team. But ten-year-old lead dog Akiak doesn’t know the rules, and nothing will stop her from catching up to her team. Akiak has never won the race before. Will she be able to help her team win this time?
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
When Floyd’s kite gets stuck in a tree, he’s determined to get it out. But how? Well, by knocking it down with his shoe, of course. But strangely enough, it too gets stuck. And the only logical course of action . . . is to throw his other shoe. Only now it’s stuck! Surely there must be something he can use to get his kite unstuck. An orangutan? A boat? His front door? Yes, yes, and yes. And that’s only the beginning. Stuck is Oliver Jeffers’ most absurdly funny story since The Incredible Book-Eating Boy. Childlike in concept and vibrantly illustrated as only Oliver Jeffers could, here is a picture book worth rescuing from any tree.
Energy Island by Allan Drummond
Hold onto your hats! It’s windy on the Danish island of Samsø. Meet the environmentally friendly people who now proudly call their home Energy Island.
At a time when most countries are producing ever-increasing amounts of CO2, the rather ordinary citizens of Samsø have accomplished something extraordinary―in just ten years they have reduced their carbon emissions by 140% and become almost completely energy independent. A narrative tale and a science book in one, this inspiring true story proves that with a little hard work and a big idea, anyone can make a huge step toward energy conservation. This book is also one of my favorite books for Earth Day!
Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming
Clink! Clankety-bang! Thump-whirr! That’s the sound of Papa at work. Although he is an inventor, he has never made anything that works perfectly, and that’s because he hasn’t yet found a truly fantastic idea. But when he takes his family fishing on Lake Michigan, his daughter Virena asks, “Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a fish?”―and Papa is off to his workshop. With a lot of persistence and a little bit of help, Papa―who is based on the real-life inventor Lodner Phillips―creates a submarine that can take his family for a trip to the bottom of Lake Michigan.
The Boy Who Grew a Forest by Sophia Gholz
As a boy, Jadav Payeng was distressed by the destruction deforestation and erosion was causing on his island home in India’s Brahmaputra River. So he began planting trees. What began as a small thicket of bamboo, grew over the years into 1,300 acre forest filled with native plants and animals. The Boy Who Grew a Forest tells the inspiring true story of Payeng–and reminds us all of the difference a single person with a big idea can make. Grit and perseverance are about continuing on when the going it long or hard, and creating a forest over years of daily work is certainly both long and hard.
How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham
“No one saw the bird fall.” In a city full of hurried people, only young Will notices the bird lying hurt on the ground. With the help of his sympathetic mother, he gently wraps the injured bird and takes it home. In classic Bob Graham style, the beauty is in the details: the careful ministrations with an eyedropper, the bedroom filled with animal memorabilia, the saving of the single feather as a good-luck charm for the bird’s return to the sky. Wistful and uplifting, here is a tale of possibility — and of the souls who never doubt its power.
This book is truly a beautiful story about never giving up even if no one else seems to care. Also one of the best books for teaching empathy!
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.
Salt In His Shoes by Deloris Jordan
The mere mention of the name conjures up visions of basketball played at its absolute best. But as a child, Michael almost gave up on his hoop dreams, all because he feared he’d never grow tall enough to play the game that would one day make him famous. That’s when his mother and father stepped in and shared the invaluable lesson of what really goes into the making of a champion — patience, determination, and hard work. A classic story that truly make it one of the best children’s books about perseverance!
The Girl Who Ran by Frances Poletti
When Bobbi Gibb saw the Boston Marathon her mind was set-she had to be a part of it. But when the time came to apply for the marathon, she was refused entry. They told her girls don’t run, girls can’t run. That didn’t stop Bobbi. This picture book tells the true story of how she broke the rules in 1966 and how, one step at a time, her grit and determination changed the world. Created in collaboration with Bobbi Gibb, The Girl Who Ran is perfect for would-be runners, kids of all ages, and everyone out there with a love of sport.
Storm Run by Libby Riddles
In 1985, Libby Riddles made history by becoming the first woman to win the 1,100-mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race. This brand-new edition of Riddles’s timeless adventure story is complete with updated narrative details, sidebars on all aspects of the race, photographs, and all-new illustrations by beloved illustrator Shannon Cartwright. An inspiration to children and adults everywhere, this is a compelling first-hand account of the arctic storms, freezing temperatures, loyal sled dogs, and utter determination that defined Riddles’s Iditarod victory.
Brave Irene by William Steig
Brave Irene is Irene Bobbin, the dressmaker’s daughter. Her mother, Mrs. Bobbin, isn’t feeling so well and can’t possibly deliver the beautiful ball gown she’s made for the duchess to wear that very evening. So plucky Irene volunteers to get the gown to the palace on time, in spite of the fierce snowstorm that’s brewing– quite an errand for a little girl.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way, as Irene proves in the danger-fraught adventure that follows. She must defy the wiles of the wicked wind, her most formidable opponent, and overcome many obstacles before she completes her mission.
Moses by Carole Boston Weatherford
Born into slavery, Harriet Tubman hears these words from God one summer night and decides to leave her husband and family behind and escape. Taking with her only her faith, she must creep through woods with hounds at her feet, sleep for days in a potato hole, and trust people who could have easily turned her in. But she was never alone.
Tubman would make nineteen subsequent trips back south, never being caught, but none as profound as this first one. Courageous, compassionate, and deeply religious, Harriet Tubman, with her bravery and relentless pursuit of freedom, is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.
Galimoto by Karen Williams
Kondi, a seven-year-old African boy, decides to make a galimoto — a toy vehicle — out of scraps of wire. He finds some wire, but it’s not enough, so Kondi searches out more. Gentle text and soft watercolors capture the essence of life in a contemporary African village as a boy perseveres to make his galimoto.
After the Fall by Dan Santat
Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?
Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat’s poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most. This is a lovely book that reminds readers to always summon the courage to get back up. The message and relatability are certainly what make it one of the greatest children’s books about perseverance.
Best Children’s Books About Perseverance
What are some of your favorite children’s books about perseverance and grit? Are there any must read children’s books about perseverance that I left out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!
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