Top Ten Books to Build and Teach “Grit”

TED Talks have some amazing information and I was recently very impressed by a talk titled “Grit: The power of passion and perseverance” by Angela Lee Duckworth. A former management consultant later seventh grade math teacher and then a psychologist, Ms. Duckworth has some fascinating things to say about the importance of teaching your children to have “grit”. It’s an intangible quality that she defines as-

“ . . . passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

So just how do you instill some much needed grit in your children? Or yourself for that matter? Here is our list of “Top Ten Books to Build and Teach ‘Grit’” to help build grittier kids and adults.

Grit1. Grit: the power of passion and perseverance by Angela Duckworth: Available in book and through OverDrive. Why do some people succeed and others fail? Sharing new insights from her landmark research on grit, MacArthur genius grant recipient Angela Duckworth explains why talent is hardly a guarantor of success. Rather, other factors can be even more crucial, such as identifying our passions and following through on our commitments. Drawing on her own story as the daughter of a scientist who frequently bemoaned her lack of smarts, Duckworth describes her winding path through teaching, business consulting, and neuroscience, which led to the hypothesis that what really drives success is not “genius” but a special blend of passion and long-term perseverance. As a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Duckworth created her own “character lab” and set out to test her theory. Here, she takes readers into the field to visit teachers working in some of the toughest schools, cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee. Finally, she shares what she’s learned from interviewing dozens of high achievers — from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor of The New Yorker, to Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll. Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that — not talent or luck — makes all the difference.

2. Mindset: the new psychology of success by Carol Dweck: Available in book, CD, and through OverDrive. “Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success–but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals–personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.”

3. How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough: Available in book and through OverDrive. “Drop the flashcards—grit, character, and curiosity matter even more than cognitive skills. A persuasive wake-up call.”—People Why do some children succeed while others fail? The story we usually tell about childhood and success is the one about intelligence: success comes to those who score highest on tests, from preschool admissions to SATs. But in How Children Succeed, Paul ToughChildren Suceed argues that the qualities that matter more have to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, optimism, and self-control. How Children Succeed introduces us to a new generation of researchers and educators, who, for the first time, are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. Through their stories—and the stories of the children they are trying to help—Tough reveals how this new knowledge can transform young people’s lives. He uncovers the surprising ways in which parents do—and do not—prepare their children for adulthood. And he provides us with new insights into how to improve the lives of children growing up in poverty. This provocative and profoundly hopeful book will not only inspire and engage readers, it will also change our understanding of childhood itself.

4. Thirty million words: building a child’s brain: tune in, talk more, take turns by Dana Suskind: “The founder and director of the Thirty Million Words Initiative, Professor Dana Suskind, explains why the most important–and astoundingly simple–thing you can do for your child’s future success in life is to talk to him or her, reveals the recent science behind this truth, and outlines precisely how parents can best put it into practice”

Mindful5. Growing up mindful: essential practices to help children, teens, and families find balance, calm, and resilience by Christopher Willard: A guide to introducing mindfulness into the lives of children and teenagers. Growing Up Mindful helps parents, educators, and counselors learn how to embody and share the skills of mindfulness that will empower our children with resilience throughout their lives. Includes more than 75 accessible exercises and practices.

6. Raising resilient children: fostering strength, hope, and optimism in your child by Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein: Top child psychologists offer expert insight and practical advice for raising strong kids in today’s complicated world.

7. Just one of the kids: raising a resilient family when one of your children has a physical disability Just One Kidby Kay Harris Kriegsman and Sara Palmer: Presents parents with stories, tips, and tools for ensuring that children with physical disabilities meet acceptable risks, face challenges, and feel like “one of the kids” while meeting the needs of the whole family.Just One Kid

8. The optimistic child: a proven program to safeguard children against depression and build lifelong resilience by Martin E. P. Seligman: The epidemic of depression in America strikes 30% of all children. Now Martin E. P. Seligman, the best-selling author of Learned Optimism, and his colleagues offer parents and educators a program clinically proven to cut that risk in half. With this startling new research, parents can teach children to apply optimism skills that can curb depression, boost school performance, and improve physical health. These skills provide children with the resilience they need to approach the teenage years and adulthood with confidence.

Option B9. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg: After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build. Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead.

10. A parent’s guide to building resilience in children and teens: giving your child roots and wings by Kenneth R. Ginsburg: Today’s children face a great deal of stress — academic performance, heavy scheduling, high achievement standards, media messages, peer pressures, family tension. Without healthier solutions, they often cope by talking back, giving up, or indulging in unhealthy behaviors. Show your child how to bounce back — and THRIVE — with coping strategies from one of the nation’s foremost experts in adolescent medicine.

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