The best books that help kids develop stick-to-itiveness (yes, that is a word)

Mary Cay Ricci Author Of Nothing You Can't Do!: The Secret Power of Growth Mindsets
By Mary Cay Ricci

Who am I?

I am a mom and life-long educator who has often scratched my head and wondered why kids give up so easily when things become a little challenging. I learned about fixed and growth mindset principles and decided to apply them to an education setting. What I realized during this time is that both adults and kids give up too easily and demonstrate fixed mindset thinking way too often! As a result, I wrote a few books for teachers, parents, and kids about ways to develop a growth mindset! I am sharing some of my favorite books that can be a catalyst for discussing resiliency and perseverance with the kids in our life!


I wrote...

Nothing You Can't Do!: The Secret Power of Growth Mindsets

By Mary Cay Ricci,

Book cover of Nothing You Can't Do!: The Secret Power of Growth Mindsets

What is my book about?

Nothing You Can’t Do! The Secret Power of a Growth Mindset is an engaging, funny, and interactive book for kids who need some support sticking with stuff. Things like sports, school, music, art...just about anything that a kid faces! The book is divided into “secrets.” Here are a few: (Shhhhh don’t tell anyone that I am sharing some secrets) Secret #9: Your Brain Can Get Smarter and Stronger! Secret #10: Bounce Back from Setbacks. Secret #14: Don’t Be Afraid of Mistakes. Secret #25: Have Some Strategies in Your Back Pocket.

Readers can learn to observe life through an optimistic lens, handle mistakes in a positive way and reflect on the potential that we all have when we learn the secrets of a growth mindset. 

The books I picked & why

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Jabari Tries

By Gaia Cornwall,

Book cover of Jabari Tries

Why this book?

Many of us can relate to a younger sibling bugging the heck out of their older sibling when they are trying to get something done. Jabari is trying to build a flying machine and his little sister, Nika wants to be involved.  I love this book because it not only demonstrates Kabari’s perseverance but also the strategies he uses and the reflection that he does between each attempt. (He sketched, he planned, he made changes) When he became frustrated, he took a break, took a breath (a great strategy for all of us to use when we get “stuck”), and allowed his little sister to be his thought partner! Lots of lessons in this fun picture book for kids: Perseverance, resiliency, changing strategies, reflection when you make a mistake, and having a thought partner. Hmmmm…perhaps a lot of good lessons for adults too!!


The Thing Lou Couldn't Do

By Ashley Spires,

Book cover of The Thing Lou Couldn't Do

Why this book?

One of the reasons that I love this book is because it doesn’t end with success. It ends with a “not yet” and maybe I will be back tomorrow to try again. That is what life is about-we don’t always have success, but we can persevere and try new things without always succeeding. Lou and her friends have great imaginations when they are playing and they decide to climb a tree and pretend it is a pirate ship. The challenge is that Lou has never climbed a tree before. Her excuses are funny: “The cat needs a walk,” “I stepped on a slug and his funeral is in 5 minutes,” and the one many of us recognize, “My tummy hurts.” She thinks of lots of ways to get up the tree without climbing - but they don’t work. She finally tries, gets a few feet up, and falls. She decides to try again tomorrow. 


Mae Among the Stars

By Roda Ahmed, Stasia Burrington (illustrator),

Book cover of Mae Among the Stars

Why this book?

“If you can dream it, if you believe it and work hard for it, anything is possible.” This passage is why I absolutely love this book. This is repeated several times throughout this beautiful picture book that is based on the life of astronaut, Dr. Mae Jemison. Mae’s parents were very supportive of her dream of going to space, but Mae’s teacher suggested that perhaps she become a nurse rather than an astronaut. She proved her wrong! Mae also became a doctor, a Peace Corp medical officer, and the first Black female astronaut. Mae is definitely among the stars!


Walk On! A Guide for Babies of All Ages

By Marla Frazee,

Book cover of Walk On! A Guide for Babies of All Ages

Why this book?

At first glance, this appears to be a picture book about a baby learning to walk...but oh no...it is much more than that! It is a book about learning how to do anything - and a great book for adult learners (an excellent graduation gift as well). In this book, the baby has to face the following as they are learning to walk: support (sometimes what you think will support you, won’t), looking out for things that are fragile, pulling yourself up, and being ok if your knees buckle. Grip and pull yourself up, then find your balance. Remember to breathe, feel the sway, and let go. It’s common to fall down, are your socks bunching up? Shoes too tight? Diaper weighing you down? (Fix things before you start.) Make sure your path is clear of obstacles and expect some rough patches. Look toward where you want to go and imagine yourself already there. You are doing it! Learning to walk is a wonderful metaphor for learning to do anything!


Song for a Whale

By Lynne Kelly,

Book cover of Song for a Whale

Why this book?

This wonderful Chapter book is about 12-year-old Iris who is the only deaf person in her school. I love this book for so many reasons but the heart of it recognizes potential in everyone, regardless of their perceived disability. Iris finds out about a whale, Blue 55 who is unable to communicate with other whales. Iris perseveres and creates a way to “sing” for him- she does this through feeling the vibrations of the music she is creating for him. Not only was I mesmerized by her story, but I learned so much about whales! A very engaging book that I had trouble putting down! 


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