When we started swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School, my middle son was not exactly excited. He was very afraid of the water, and the thought of getting into a pool once a week did not sound appealing to him. At all.
Despite his fear, he promised me he would try his best, and that’s exactly what he did. Every week he’s showed up and moved a little bit further outside of his comfort zone. The instructors at Goldfish met him where he was, and have celebrated every bit of progress he’s made along the way, no matter how small. Through their encouragement, his confidence has grown. Each week, he’s a little more comfortable in the water.
And then, this happened.
It was a small moment, but my little boy who was so scared to swim, SWAM. On his own. And I’m more proud than if he had won all the gold medals at the Olympics.
Through his swim lessons, my son has learned that if you work hard and don’t give up, you can achieve the things you think are impossible. I am so proud that he never gave up, and I am thankful for instructors that didn’t give up on him, even when his progress was small and slow. (BIG shoutout to Ms. Dove, who has been an AMAZING teacher.)
And now my kid who didn’t want to swim says swim lessons get a thumbs up!
The books below are some of my favorite books that teach perseverance. I love reading them with my boys, and I find just as much inspiration from them as they do!
13 Children’s Books About Perseverance
The Little Engine That Could by Wally Piper — In my opinion, every child should have a copy of this classic. This timeless story of believing in yourself teaches a positive lesson, and the vintage-style illustrations are as engaging now as they were when this story was first published. Make sure this book is in your library!
Luigi and the Barefoot Races by Dan Paley — Luigi Lenzini is a legend on Regent Street. He’s the fastest kid around, and he runs barefoot because “shoes slow you down.” When he faces an opponent named Mean Max, he has to believe in himself in a race no one thinks he can win.
Thank you Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco — Trisha is great at art, but she has a hard time with reading. When she looks at the words, all she sees is a jumble of letters. With the help of her teacher Mr. Falker, Trisha discovers that she has dyslexia. He helps Trisha find ways to overcome her disability and become a strong reader.
Busy-Busy Little Chick by Janice N. Harrington — Mama Nsoso keeps promising her chicks that she will build them a warm and cozy home. However, she keeps getting distracted by the tasty worms and insects that pass by. Thankfully, Little Chick is hard-working and persistent, and works a little bit every day to build them the nest that they need.
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds — Vashti is convinced that she can’t draw. Her teacher encourages her to just make a mark on the paper and see where it takes her. Vashti angrily makes a dot that soon takes her on a journey of self-discovery. She realizes just how much fun art can be, and that was more inside her than she realized.
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman — Grace loves stories, and when she finds out her class is putting on a production of Peter Pan, she wants the title role. Some of her classmates tell Grace she could never be Peter Pan, because she’s black and because she’s a girl. Grace’s grandmother takes her to see a beautiful dancer from Trinidad, and helps her see she can be whatever she wants to be.
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beatty — Rosie loves to invent all kinds of gadgets and gizmos. She’s determined to build her aunt a flying machine, but the contraption she creates only hovers for a moment before it falls to the ground. Rosie feels like she’s failed, but her aunt reminds her that you only fail when you give up.
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires — A little girl is determined to make the MOST MAGNIFICENT THING…she’s just not sure what it is. She keeps trying to create this magnificent thing, and over and over again she fails. She gets very angry and decides she’s going to give up. Her dog convinces her to take a walk, and when she comes back to her project she has a renewed sense of purpose.
Brave Irene by William Steig — One of my favorite books from my childhood! Irene Bobbin volunteers to deliver a dress for her mother, a dressmaker. However, she must travel through a fierce snowstorm to make the delivery. She braves strong winds and dangerous conditions to complete the task for her mother, never giving up along the way.
Teedie: The Story of Young Teddy Roosevelt by Don Brown — I love reading biographies with my kids because there’s so much to learn from the experiences of others. This biography of Teddy Roosevelt is a great lesson in perseverance. Roosevelt went from being an asthmatic boy with poor eyesight to the president of the United States. His intelligence and determination helped him overcome many obstacles to get there. Thanks to reader Amanda for this recommendation!
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae — Everyone knows giraffes can’t dance, but that doesn’t keep Gerald from wanting to join the Jungle Dance with the other animals. However, he’s mercilessly teased for his skinny legs and crooked knees. A friendly cricket shows Gerald that he can dance, he just needs the right song.
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett — In her nine years of life, Beatrice Bottomwell has never made a mistake. She always does everything just right…until the one day she doesn’t. Beatrice makes a mistake, and she does it in a big way. She learns that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and that you should never let a fear of failure keep you from living life.
What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada — Did you ever have a great idea that just seemed too big to bring to life? In this book, a little child has a wonderful idea that begins to grow, until one day it becomes something amazing. This book teaches a great lesson about believing in yourself that I enjoyed as much as my kids did.