10 Growth Mindset Books for Younger Kids
With younger children, encouraging a growth mindset is best done through engaging stories that will help them reflect on their own experiences. The best growth mindset books for this age group deliver key resilience messages, such as:
- mistakes are part of learning
- the importance of persevering when things get tough
- bouncing back and trying again
If you have a child with perfectionist tendencies, or a child who gets frustrated or angry when they don’t get things right first time (or who refuses to even try in case they get it wrong!), these books are a gentle way to encourage them to look at their mistakes more positively and find a way to keep going even when things are tough.
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The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes (by Gary Rubinstein and Mark Pett) is a classroom classic but it definitely deserves a place in the homes of children with perfectionist tendencies. The book makes a simple point about learning to enjoy mistakes and the limits of perfectionism – but all within a very readable and accessible story. (4-8 yrs)
Another growth mindset book focused on anti-perfectionism is Beautiful Oops (by Barney Salzberg). This book’s especially good for encouraging creativity and flexible thinking in children who tend to give up as soon as they have made a mistake. Those kids who love drawing, for example, but rip up their artwork if any little thing goes wrong. Visually, the book has the feel of a messy art table – no neat and perfect illustrations here – and encourages the idea that sometimes the most beautiful results come from mistakes and accidents. (2-7 yrs)
If Beautiful Oops doesn’t look like it will excite your child, take a look at The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken. It’s very similar (and also focused on drawing/creativity) but with a stronger narrative thread which demonstrates how a mistake can lead to problem-solving which can then lead to successes and more mistakes and more problem-solving… There is a really clear message (subtly told) that no single mistake is ever the all-defining moment, mistakes are part of the greater journey. (4-8 yrs)
The subtitle of After the Fall (by Dan Santat) is ‘How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again’. This is a witty retelling of the Humpty Dumpty tale that focuses on bouncing back and overcoming setbacks and fears. Of all the growth mindset books listed here, this is the one ALL children should read! It teaches compassion as well as courage. The illustrations are beautifully detailed – you will find something new in them every time you look. Be warned, not everyone is a fan of the ending, though (take a look at the reviews in Amazon to see what I mean). (2-7 yrs)
This is (in my opinion) one of the best non-fiction growth mindset books for younger children. It can be used both by families and teachers. Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch it, Shape it is an accessible guide for children (written by psychologist Dr JoAnn Deak) which explains how the brain works and why it is so important to try new things and to persevere in the face of setbacks. Full of tips for how kids can hack their brains too. There is now a companion book which explains how sleep helps you to grow your brain too (Goodnight To Your Fantastic Elastic Brain). (5-8 yrs)
For an alternative to Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, take a look at Bubble Gum Brain (by Julia Cook). I’m not so keen on the illustrations (the bubble gum head gives me the shivers) but that’s probably just me! The distinction between a bubble gum brain and a brick brain helpfully encapsulates the fixed vs. growth mindset distinction and is the type of concrete imagery that really helps younger children understand abstract concepts. (5-9 yrs)
I love the phrase ‘not yet’. It is such a useful phrase for helping children put a growth mindset into action. The storyline of Lisa Cox’s Not Yet is a bit weak but in a way that’s really helpful because its focus on the ordinary (rather than extraordinary) lands the ‘not yet’ message very close to home. This isn’t about adventurers or big achievements, it’s about tying your shoelaces and having a positive mindset in the everyday. (If you are looking for a more fairy tale version of the ‘not yet’ message, take a look at I Can’t Do That Yet by Esther Pia Cordova). (4-8 yrs)
The Most Magnificent Thing (by Ashley Spires) is the perfect choice if your child has a tendency to get frustrated and/or angry when things don’t go the way they have planned. The theme is managing our negative reactions when we desperately want to get something right but keep facing setbacks. But the message is delivered via an engaging story with beautiful illustrations. (3-7 yrs)
What Do You Do With An Idea? (by Kobi Yamada) is a charming and inspiring book about how big things come from small beginnings – as long as you keep going. As an adult, you might also find it gets you thinking about your own goals and dreams too! (3-7 yrs)
Mistakes That Worked: 40 Familiar Inventions and How They Came To Be (by Charlotte Foltz Jones) is a bit dated now (it was first published in 1994) but still fascinating. It’s full of fun facts about accidental discoveries and mistakes that led to super-useful inventions. This book might be a good choice for a child who is interested in STEM subjects. It will also set you up really well for pub quiz questions! (6-10 yrs)
I hope you found these recommendations for growth mindset books useful. If you have come across any growth mindset books for younger kids and want to recommend a specific title (or to feedback on any of these), please do write a comment below!
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