Encouraging a Growth Mindset for Kids

January 31, 2017 | Jennifer

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Kids in superhero costumes
Photo Credit: Imagens Portal SESCSP on a CC License.

About halfway through the school year, kids may need some encouragement to keep working hard. Help them stick to a growth mindset: the idea that their intelligence is not fixed. Through hard work and perseverance, they can boost their smarts and sharpen their talents. This attitude could make the difference between a child saying “I’m not good at math” (fixed mindset) versus “I just need more practice” (growth mindset). 

As Professor Carol Dweck points out, “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

Read about characters who stick to projects and go beyond expectations. These characters can help kids gain confidence and persevere, without sounding like a motivational classroom poster.

The most magnificent thing

 The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires (Ages 3-7)

Going places

Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds (Ages 4-8)

What do you do with an idea

What Do You Do With an Idea? (only available in print) by Kobi Yamada (Ages 4-8)

Rosie revere engineer

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty (Ages 5-8)

Iggy peck architect

Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty (Ages 5-8)

Ada twist scientist

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty (Ages 5-8)

Sometimes “your little artist” doesn't feel confident in their abilities to create. The following books remind kids to practice, whether at art, music or sports, and proudly acknowledge life's little smudges. 

The artist who painted a blue horse

The Artist who Painted a Blue Horse (only available in print) by Eric Carle (Ages 3-5)

The art lesson

The Art Lesson (only available in print) by Tomie dePaola (Ages 4-8)

Sky color

Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds (Ages 5-8)


Ish by Peter H. Reynolds (Ages 5-8)

The dot

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds (Ages 5-8)

Hana hashimoto sixth violin

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki (Ages 4-8)

Whistle for willie

Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats (Ages 3-7)

Nadia the girl who couldn't sit still

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still (only available in print) by Karlin Gray (Ages 6-9)

Look to amazing lives-lived, such as this book list about biographies that encourage the growth mindset. Research shows that teenagers who read about scientists who struggled in their life's work had a more positive connection to their own potential. They understood that even great discoverers faced challenges. The list also includes titles for younger audiences.

Your fantastic elastic brain

Together with books that nurture a love of the learning process in all its failure and messiness, we can teach kids to love their fantastic, elastic brains.


Updated April 14, 2020.