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Notes From a Children's Librarian: On Perseverance

Books that show the development of perseverance as a character trait. 

Book Cover Boy in Motion

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.


Perseverance as a character trait is the focus of these stellar picture books. 

Young readers will be captivated by Boy in Motion: Rick Hansen’s Story, by Ainslee Manson, illustrated by Renne Benoit. This non-fiction picture book begins with Rick as an energetic boy, lover of fishing and sports. A car accident in his teens leaves him paralyzed from the waist down. Rick’s struggle begins with eight weeks in a Stryker bed, crutches, then a wheelchair. He begins coaching, with his father’s adage in mind: “There’s no such word as ‘can’t'.” One day Rick goes fishing on his own, falls in the lake, wheelchair and all. Through sheer will, he pulls himself out, drags his chair up onto the rocks…and continues fishing! An afterword explaining Hanson's The Man in Motion World Tour will inspire all. Grade 1+

Book Cover The Little Hummingbird

The Little Hummingbird, by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, is a folktale about stamina, with Haida-style illustrations. A forest fire causes the animals to flee but the smallest one remains steadfast, extinguishing flames one drop at a time. “I’m doing everything I can,” he says. Also included in this book is an afterword about the hummingbird’s significance in stories across cultures and a message from Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan activist/tree-planter (the subject of several picture books herself), inspiring readers to take on environmental challenges. K+ 

Book Cover Jeremiah Learns to Read

Learning to read takes moxie, particularly when you’re a grandfather. In Jeremiah Learns to Read, by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Laura Fernandez and Rick Jacobson, Jeremiah knows a lot about the land and farming but he wants to learn to read. He joins the children in the country schoolhouse and as he grasps letters and sounds, he teaches the children about whittling, bird calls and how to make applesauce. Until one night, after much determination, he’s ready to read—a love poem to his wife. The next day, she too, joins him on the walk to school. K+

Book Cover The Most Magnificent THing

The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires, is dedicated to “all the little perfectionists of the world.” This one is great for promoting problem-solving and persistence. It could also introduce a unit on construction and inquiry-based STEM projects. In this tale, a regular girl, who loves making and un-making things, sets out to build something magnificent. She draws a plan, gathers her supplies, examines her creations, evaluates, adjusts. But when it doesn’t come together, her frustration explodes. Then she does something all young inventors should do when frustrated…she goes for a walk. Upon her return, she sees all her creations have good bits she can use. An absolute must for budding scientists. K+

Book Cover Ten Birds

Ten Birds, by Cybele Young, is a book that also lends itself to STEM projects. Ten birds are faced with the challenge of crossing a river. Large detailed wood-block-style illustrations, along with Young’s cryptic language, invite the reader to figure out how each bird will get across. Creations include a clothes-line type pulley and a homemade catapult. A funny ending leaves all ten birds safely delivered to the other side. In the sequel, Ten Birds Meet a Monster, the birds confront a shadowy figure. The rich language continues as they use piles of clothing to make such creatures as, “Terrifying Crackatoothus” and “Victious Polka-dactyl.” K+

Book Cover Amos's Sweater

In Amos’s Sweater, by Janet Lunn, illustrated by Kim La Fave, Amos, the sheep, is old and cold and tired of being sheared. Aunt Hattie knits his latest wool into a big sweater for Uncle Henry but Amos bites holes in it each time Aunt Hattie mends it. Until one day he tugs so hard he ends up wearing it, serendipitously solving his problem. K+

Book Cover Sky Colour

Marisol’s tenacity is quieter in Sky Colour, by Peter Reynolds. The little girl has a dilemma; how to paint the sky for her class mural without any blue. Her belief in herself as an artist guides her until an answer comes. K+

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