Books that celebrate perseverance and grit

Written by BFIS Staff

Here is a list of books available in our Elementary Library which include themes of persistence, tenacity, and determination but also being able to solve problems with creativity or a different and unique approach. Perseverance is about being able to focus and to continue working hard even if what we have in front of us is difficult and challenging. 

But, perseverance is also about being able to think outside of the box. Sometimes it is just about, simple but tough, hard work and diligence.

It is important that students develop perseverance and grit. Research indicates that the ability to be gritty is an essential part of success beyond talent and intelligence. Without grit, talent may be nothing more than unmet potential. It is only with effort that talent becomes a skill that leads to success (Duckworth 2016).  

We start with a selection for younger readers

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

The book ‘Sam and Dave Dig a Hole’ by Mac Barnett is an imaginative and captivating story about two boys on a mission to find something special. The journey takes them across meadows, through forests, over rivers, and beyond their own backyard as they search for the truly extraordinary. Along the way, readers of all ages will be mesmerized by the vivid illustrations that bring this tale to life

This delightful tale encourages children to use their imagination while being creative in their approach to problem-solving. It’s also full of fun jokes and witty phrases that will keep children engaged throughout the entire story. As they read along, they’ll learn important lessons like resilience and perseverance essential for any task or adventure has taken on in life. Filled with surprises at every turn, this entertaining book is perfect for solo reading or parents looking to share timeless stories with their children.

Now and Ben by Gene Barretta

The book ‘Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin’ by Gene Barretta is an innovative and captivating look at how the inventions of Benjamin Franklin have shaped our modern-day lives. Written for children ages 8-12, it explores the life of Benjamin Franklin in a fun and interactive way.

Through this book, readers can explore the many incredible inventions that were created by Benjamin Franklin – from bifocals to lightning rods. With colorful illustrations accompanying each invention, this book provides a great introduction to history while also highlighting some of the most significant contributions to modern life made by one man. 

This engaging read will appeal to both children and adults alike who are interested in learning more about one of America’s Founding Fathers and his lasting impact on the world.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

The Curious Garden, written by Peter Brown and illustrated by Nick Bertozzi, is an award-winning picture book that has enchanted readers of all ages since its 2009 debut. A timeless tale of ecological stewardship and the power of nature, The Curious Garden follows the story of a young boy on his journey to transform a neglected city into a lush urban oasis filled with flowers and greenery.

The story begins in an industrial area where the only green things are dying plants and weeds. As our protagonist Liam explores the surroundings, he discovers one small patch of thriving wildflowers growing among the rubble. With help from his grandfather, Liam sets out to care for this curious garden and encourage its growth throughout the barren city landscape.

If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano & illustrated by Erin E. Stead

If You Want to See a Whale, the book written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead is a beautifully touching story about a young boy’s journey to see the magnificent whales he has heard so much about. The book follows the adventures of the young boy as he searches for a whale across the land, oceans, and even outer space! With its vivid illustrations, imaginative storyline, and tender message of hope, this story will captivate readers of all ages.The book is an exploration of both nature and human emotions that binds us all together. Its gentle lyrics poetically capture the longing we all feel when searching for something special in our lives; with each yearning step taken toward finding what we desire most.

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

The Point, a work of literature by Peter H. Reynolds is a motivating tale about artistic confidence and self-expression. This outstanding children’s book depicts the tale of Vashti, a little child who unearths her exceptional artistic skill. Vashti learns to trust her skills and have confidence in herself as she embarks on a path of self-discovery and creativity.Bright colors, straightforward shapes, and emotive figures in Reynolds’ lively paintings bring this inspiring narrative to life. Children and adults alike adore The Point because of its endearing message and enthralling images. It is well-liked by readers all around the world and has been translated into more than 20 different languages.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

The Most Magnificent Thing, written and illustrated by Ashley Spires, is a charming story about learning to persevere when faced with a challenge. It follows the journey of a young girl and her furry assistant as they attempt to create something extraordinary – “the most magnificent thing.” Despite their best efforts, creating the perfect thing proves difficult and leaves them feeling discouraged.

With gentle encouragement from her canine companion, the girl learns that success can only come through trial and error. She discovers that creating something remarkable requires patience, determination, and lots of hard work. Through her journey, readers are reminded of the importance of never giving up in pursuit of our dreams no matter how challenging things may seem. With its beautiful illustrations and heart-warming message, this book will captivate young readers from start to finish!

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! is a beloved children’s book written by Mo Willems. The story follows a determined pigeon who desperately wants to get behind the wheel of an off-limits bus and drive it himself. With its humorous illustrations, simple text, and entertaining storyline, Willems’ book has become a classic for young readers everywhere. Children ages three to seven can enjoy this fun read-aloud with its silly illustrations and relatable characters. The book features an irresistibly charming pigeon that will have kids laughing out loud as they follow along with his misadventures. As children join the protests of other animals on behalf of the persistent pigeon, they’ll delight in seeing how it all turns out in the end!

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss follows the story of a young boy who, despite all odds, believes he can grow a carrot from a seed. Along his journey, he faces many challenges and discovers the beauty of perseverance.This timeless tale has been loved by generations and continues to be shared with many parents reading it to their children today. It teaches valuable lessons about determination and believing in yourself that are still relevant today. The illustrations by Crockett Johnson bring the characters to life as young readers follow along on the journey with optimism and joy.

Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Krauss

Leo the Late Bloomer, written by Robert Krauss and first published in 1971, is a classic children’s book about a young tiger who struggles to learn new things. It has been praised for its candid representation of the developmental challenges that many children face. Through Leo’s experiences, young readers learn about patience and resilience as he grapples with his difficulties. 

While the story is heartwarming and humorous, it also provides an important message about acknowledging their successes and not comparing themselves to others. The book is suitable for children aged between four and eight years old, as well as adults who would like to read it together with their little ones. As a timeless classic that has been enjoyed by generations of readers since its initial release almost five decades ago, Leo the Late Bloomer remains an endearing story that offers comfort for kids struggling with learning delays.

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

The beloved children’s book Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman has been a classic bedtime story for many generations. First published in 1991, the book follows the journey of young Grace as she discovers and explores her passion for acting. Through various stage performances, Grace learns to express herself and prove that she can overcome any obstacle set before her. 

This timeless tale of determination and self-discovery is still inspiring readers today. Through its charming illustrations and positive message, Amazing Grace shows readers how to never give up on their dreams no matter how difficult their goals may seem. It encourages young readers to pursue whatever interests them regardless of what others think or say. 

Since its initial publication, the book has won numerous awards including being named an American Library Association Notable Book in 1992 and winning a Parents’ Choice Gold Award in 1994.

Listen to the wind: the story of Dr. Greg and the three cups of tea by Greg Mortenson

The book Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea is a story of courage, dedication, and resilience by American humanitarian and author Greg Mortenson. After a failed attempt to climb K2 in 1993, Mortenson found himself lost and alone in the remote village of Korphe, Pakistan. Inspired by the people he met while on his journey home, Mortenson was determined to repay their kindness through education. 

He founded his charity organization – Central Asia Institute – which focuses on building schools for girls in very rural areas. 

Through an inspiring narrative that spans over two decades, this autobiographical work delves into Mortenson’s journey from being a mountain climber to become one of the world’s most influential humanitarians.

For older readers

Benjamin Franklin’s Wise Words: How to Work Smart, Play Well, and Make Real Friends by Benjamin Franklin & Fred Harper

In Benjamin Franklin’s Wise Words: How to Work Smart, Play Well, and Make Real Friends, readers will learn the key to success in life. The book features timeless advice from one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers – Benjamin Franklin. Drawing on his own experiences as a statesman, scientist, inventor and entrepreneur, this book provides compelling insights into how to optimize your work performance for maximum success.This highly practical guide helps you develop successful strategies for handling everyday challenges and making difficult decisions. It also teaches valuable lessons about learning from failure and discovering the basis of true friendship. With an emphasis on hard work tempered with play and relaxation, it offers invaluable guidance on how to make real friends who will be there for you no matter what.

Queen of the Falls by Chris VanAllsburg

The New York Times bestselling novel, Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg is a captivating story about a young woman’s quest for adventure. The book follows the story of Annie Edson Taylor, who at 61 years old decided to be the first person to bravely go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Throughout her journey and trials of conquering this feat, readers get an understanding of her courage and determination to achieve greatness. Van Allsburg beautifully illustrates the life-changing adventure that Taylor embarks on through his signature art style as well as vivid descriptions that bring her journey to life for readers. Queen of the Falls is an award-winning children’s book with uplifting messages on bravery and determination that will inspire both children and adults alike.

The Fables of Aesop by Aesop

The book The Fables of Aesop by Edward Julius Detmold is a collection of classic Greek fables, each with its own moral. The publication was originally released in 1909 and has been reprinted multiple times since. It features beautiful illustrations, detailed woodcuts, and a wealth of knowledge about the culture and history behind these timeless stories.

Detmold wrote the book to be accessible for both children and adults alike. Facts regarding the life of Aesop are included alongside the fables themselves, as well as an introduction to the author’s personal interpretation and analysis of the tales. Each story is followed by a reflection on its meaning, intended to help readers gain insight into the importance and relevancy behind some of literature’s oldest tales.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

The flight of Apollo 11 was one of the most iconic space exploration missions in history. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first humans to land on the Moon. Now, award-winning author Brian Floca has written a book that chronicles this incredible journey – ‘Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11’.

Floca’s book blends together a gripping narrative with beautiful illustrations to create an engaging and informative read for readers of all ages. It takes readers through each step of the mission, from launch day all the way to Armstrong’s famous “One small step” as he descended onto the lunar surface. Alongside this are stories from those on board, including Armstrong and Aldrin themselves. At over 40 pages in length, ‘Moonshot’ is an excellent introduction to one of mankind’s greatest achievements.

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Andrea Davis Pinkney’s book The Red Pencil transports readers to a community in Sudan on an emotional journey. Amira, the main character, is a 12-year-old girl whose life is abruptly altered when her village is invaded and she is forced to flee to a refugee camp. 

Amira finds solace in using her beloved red pencil to write stories and poetry in spite of the tragedy that befalls her. She learns the strength of resilience and hope in the face of challenging circumstances.

Pinkney immerses readers in the world of Amira’s Sudanese hamlet as she encounters both joy and sadness through her colorful tale and stunning graphics.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

The book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Meale is a captivating read that tells the true story of an inspiring fourteen-year-old boy from Malawi who built a windmill to save his family from famine. It is an inspirational tale about the power of ingenuity and determination in the face of adversity

William Kamkwamba’s story begins in 2001, when he was living with his family on their small farm in Wimbe, Malawi. After two consecutive years of failed harvests due to drought, food shortages were rampant throughout his village and hunger had become a way of life for many families, including William’s own.

Happy Reading!

Miss Emma Kerr
Elementary School Librarian

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