It’s never too early to teach kids the value of persistence. These books show kids and adults (and a turtle, in one case) whose determination allows them to succeed in ways they didn’t always think possible.
When Sophie Thinks She Can’t by Molly Bang
Published by Blue Sky Press, 2018
Sophie’s teacher shows her how having a growth mindset can help her solve problems instead of giving up. Includes additional information on the work of Carol Dweck and growth mindset vs. fixed mindset. 40 pages; ages 4-8.
My Day With the Panye by Tami Charles, illustrated by Sara Palacios
Published by Candlewick, 2021
Fallon’s persistence (and her mother’s patience) pays off when she is finally able to carry the panye on the way home from her Port-au-Prince market. Includes additional information about the panye and Haiti. 40 pages; ages 4-8.
Published by Candlewick, 2017 and 2020
Jabari’s dad and little sister help him find the courage to jump off the high dive and to persist in his efforts to design and build a flying machine. Both are 32 pages; ages 4-8.
Golden Threads by Suzanne Del Rizzo, illustrated by Miki Sato
Published by Owlkids, 2020
When a battered stuffed fox washes up at Kiko’s house, she and her father repair him like they do broken china, with golden threads. Broken does not mean imperfect, and the fox leads Kiko and her dad to new friendships. Includes additional information on two Japanese ideas: kintsugi, in which broken china is mended with gold, encouraging reuse instead of throwing away; and wabi-sabi, finding beauty in things that are imperfect or incomplete. 32 pages; ages 4-8.
The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by Oge Mora
Published by Schwartz and Wade, 2020
Born into slavery in 1848, Mary Walker worked hard her entire life. At age 114, she decided to put her energy into learning to read, and was eventually certified as the oldest student in America. 40 pages; ages 4-10.
More-Igami by Dori Kleber, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Published by Candlewick Press, 2016
Joey loves to fold, so when he learns about origami, it seems like it’s right up his alley. It’s not as easy as it looks, though, and he needs persistence to figure out how to do it. Includes instructions for an origami ladybug. 40 pages; ages 4-8.
The Floating Field: How a Group of Thai Boys Built Their Own Soccer Field by Scott Riley, illustrated by Nguyen Quang and Kim Lien
Published by Millbrook Press, 2021
The true story of a group of boys who wouldn’t give up on their dream of having a soccer field in their island village of Koh Panyee, Thailand. Their persistence paid off, and their team scored a third-place win at the local soccer tournament. Includes additional historical information, photos, maps, some soccer words in Thai, and a bibliography. 40 pages; grades 2-6.
Truman by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019
When Sarah leaves for her first day of school, her pet turtle Truman can’t understand where she’s gone. He decides to go find her, doggedly seeking a way out of his tank and to the front door. 48 pages; ages 4-8.
After the Fall by Dan Santat
Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2017
Humpty Dumpty got put back together again, but his new fear of heights proves crippling. His determination to overcome his phobia results in a transformation and one of the best picture book endings ever. 40 pages; ages 4-8.
Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person Ever to Run a Marathon by Simran Jeet Singh, illustrated by Baljinder Kaur
Published by Kokila, 2020
Fauja Singh didn’t learn to walk until he was 5 years old, and didn’t start running until he was 81. Every day, he ran a little further and a little faster until he could run 26.2 miles, and in 2011, became the first 100-year-old to complete a marathon. 48 pages, ages 4 to 104 (and up).
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls
Published by Random House Children’s Books, 2015
Born in Ghana without the use of his right leg, Emmanuel learned to persist in school and sports. In 2006, he rode a bicycle from one end of Ghana to the other to raise awareness about people with disabilities. 40 pages; grades 1-6.
Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
Published by Simon and Schuster, 2017
Small Walt and Gus team up to clear the streets, holding their own with the bigger, more powerful snowplows. 40 pages; ages 4-8.