This time of the school year is perfect to work on goal-setting. The students are returning back from break and it’s a great time to wipe the slate clean and make a fresh start. Students will of course need some guidance with setting their goals. Using picture books is always a great way to help students understand a concept.
Here are some great picture books for goal-setting (and working hard to reach them)!
*You can click on any title to purchase the books via Amazon. These are affiliate links, which means I earn a small percentage if you purchase through these links, at no extra cost to you. I always only recommend resources I love!
Squirrel’s New Year Resolution BY Pat Miller
This is a great one to start with. It explains what resolutions are and what kinds of resolutions/ goals to make. All the animals in the story have resolutions, but Squirrel is struggling to think of one. Throughout the story, he helps others with their resolutions and finds the perfect resolution for him: to help someone every day!
THE Girl and the Bicycle BY Mark Pett
This story is so sweet! It’s also a bit unique as it’s a wordless picture book. One day a little girl sees a bicycle in a store window and is determined to buy it. She decides to ask her neighbors if she can help with their yard work to make money. Only one neighbor, a kind old woman, says yes. This is a great story to discuss perseverance but also generosity as well. There are some goals that require help from others to be able to reach. Extension: have students choose a page to write speech bubbles for!
Ambitious Ninja BY Mary Nhin
This is a fun one! I love these Ninja series because they all promote positive ways to deal with problems. In this one, Ninja wants to get his blue belt, but learns how to set goals and steps to get there (and to follow through). Great book for teaching patience, staying focused, and accountability!
THE CURIOUS GARDEN BY PETER BROWN
In this story, a little boy named Liam stumbles upon a small garden in his city and sets a goal to help bring it back to life. This is a great example of how we can set goals that help the community. You could use this to start a discussion on setting a class goal that would benefit the classroom community. This would also make a great read for Earth Day.
For some extra fun, the students can try to find the main character on every page (he is hidden on some)!
Whistle for Willie BY Ezra Jack Keats
This story is a classic for a reason! Knowing how to whistle is a goal and rite of passage for many young students. In this story, a boy named Peter wants to be able to whistle for his pet dog, Willie. It takes a lot of practice for Peter to meet his goal. He whistles until his cheeks hurt!
Flight School BY Lita Judge
This is an adorable story about a penguin who is determined to fly. It’s a great way to begin the conversation on setting realistic goals. In the end, the penguin gets some help from his friends to experience what it feels like to fly. Reminds me of when I tried to run a marathon on a whim!
THE Night Before New Year’s BY Natasha Wing
You may already be familiar with Wing’s Night Before series as it’s a favorite among teachers and students!
This fun rhyming story is a great way to explain how many people celebrate the new year and make New Year resolutions. In the story, each member of the family sets a goal for the new year.
Be sure to grab the free poster below to have your students make New Year resolutions.
THE Magical Yet BY Angela DiTerlizzi
This one is great to read after students have set goals. Just like the title implies, this book is all about perseverance and not giving up on goals! It’s very relatable since the main character struggles to learn how to ride a bike, a common goal with kids.
I Can Do Hard Things BY Gabi Garcia
Continuing with the theme of perseverance, this book is all about affirmations and believing in oneself even when times are tough. Discuss how most goals take hard work to achieve so they have to prepare for those tough moments. Ask students to brainstorm what they will do when they’re feeling like they’ll never reach their goals! Extension: Make a class anchor chart with affirmations for students to refer to.
THE Most Magnificent Thing BY Ashley Spires
I love the lessons in this book! The little girl wants to make something magnificent and it doesn’t turn out right. She makes adjustments, quits, then comes back to try again. She notices that each attempt has something great about it! We can learn lessons from our mistakes! It’s a great book for planning steps to reach one’s goal and revising those steps when they’re not working.
Setting Goals with Goal-Trackers
Pair up your read-alouds with Goal-Trackers! If you need a resource to make setting goals easy with your students and motivate them to work towards them, then these are a great tool.
These boards come in different themes and have little motivational messages! I include several sheets for planning steps, class note pages to keep track of, as well as certificates when goals are reached. They can be used for virtually any goal you can think of. Read more about Goal-trackers here.
I hope you found a new picture book or two to use in your classroom for goal-setting with your students this new year! What other books do you know? Did I miss your favorite? Let me know below!
If you need more help with helping your students set goals, read my previous blog post for examples and more details on how you can discuss goal-setting with children.
I also have a post about using Goal-Trackers with your students. Goal-Trackers help students with setting a goal and tracking their progress. You can read about them here.