I am always on the hunt for great books to add to my classroom library or to share with colleagues. In schools, we talk a lot about having a growth versus a fixed mindset. When you have a fixed mindset, you aren’t open to trying new things and may believe more in “I can’t” statements. When you have a growth mindset, however, you become more open-minded, embrace challenges and change those “I can’t” statements to “I can’t yet…” Books that help kids see the importance of having a growth mindset are valuable additions to any library.
Abigail dreads swimming lessons. Every time she dives into the pool, she makes a big splash, and all the girls in her class shout: “Abigail’s a whale!” Abigail can see that she is larger than the other girls. She feels huge, heavy, and out of place.
Abigail’s swimming teacher takes her aside and points out: we can change how we see ourselves. He offers a creative visualization technique she can use to feel bolder, more confident, and more accepting of herself. Abigail tries it out in challenging situations that week—walking home in the dark, eating her vegetables, trying to fall asleep. Illustrations in the book show her perspective morphing powerfully to match her new thought patterns.
Next time she’s in swimming class, instead of feeling heavy, Abigail thinks sardine, eel, barracuda, shark! She starts to figure out how to draw on mindfulness, creative thinking, resilience, and positive self-esteem to embrace exactly who she is. This picture book supports social/emotional learning and serves as a perfect jumping-off point for topics like bullying, empathy, confidence, and creative problem solving.
Abigail the Whale is a powerful book about mindset that you need to share with kids and adults alike! Follow Abigail on her journey towards a growth mindset. I love how the illustrations and text work seamlessly together to help the reader understand what Abigail thinking and how her positive attitude is helping her achieve her goal.
This text would be great for primary, junior or intermediate audiences. During your read aloud, the following questions could be used to support student comprehension and to get kids thinking within, beyond and about the text. The Fountas and Pinnell Prompting Guide 2 is a great tool to help develop rich questions.
What do you think this text might be about?
What makes you think that?
How do you think the girl on the front cover is feeling?
How do the illustrations help you understand how Abigail is feeling?
What do you think the author meant when they wrote “She thought shining sun”? How would you feel?
What did this text teach you about mind-set?
How can you use this mindfulness strategy to help you?
Do you have any favourite mindset books you love sharing with kids?