6 Books for Setting Goals with Elementary Students 

By: Laura Driscoll
Read Time:  min

Setting goals with elementary students is a perfect way to motivate students and build this key skill from a young age. I have found that books are a great medium to begin to explore goals and what it takes to achieve them. I choose six of my favorites that span K-5. 

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Whistle for Willie

Grades: K-1

This is a simple picture board book that follows a little boy Peter. He wants to learn to whistle so he can call his dog Willie. The book shows that Peter keeps trying to whistle even though he couldn't do it at first. He finally is able to whistle and calls Willie over. 

This is a great book to explore setting small, personal goals that are important to you, and how persisting with a goal is part of the process.

Whistle for Willie

Squirrel's New Year's Resolutions

Grades K-2

This is a more direct exploration of New Year's Resolutions that is perfect for lower elementary students. Squirrel talks with the other forest animals about what a New Year's Resolution is and what their resolutions are.

This is a great way to talk about how everyone can have different goals because different things are important to all of us. It may also help students think of their own goals.

Squirrel's New Year's Resolution

A Chair for My Mother

Grades: 1-3

This is a beautiful book about a family who loses everything in a fire. They spend a long time saving up change to fill a jar so they can buy a comfortable chair for their apartment. There are great themes around family and community support. 

Perfect for thinking of goals that help other people and emphasizing the hard work that goes into achieving our goals.

A Chair For My Mother

Ruby's Wish

Grades: 2-4

This book is about a young girl living in China during a time in which young girls did not go to school or receive an education. However, her grandfather includes her in the lessons with the male children. As Ruby gets older she has a wish to attend university despite knowing that this is not something young women her age do. 

Perfect book to talk about the obstacles that get in our way and how persistence pays off. Also, another one that emphasizes that we don't achieve our goals without the support of others.

Ruby's Wish

Salt In His Shoes

Grades: 3 to 5

This book is about Michael Jordan when he was a young boy and was frustrated that he was not tall enough. Written by his mother, she tells the tale of his determination and hard work, along with the support of his family.

Perfect way to explore those big goals and how they don't happen overnight. 

Salt in His Shoes

Thank You, Mr. Falker

Grades: 3-5

Wonderful book that would be great for a small group book club. This story follows a young girl who hasn't learned to read yet when she meets a new teacher that believes in her. She finds the support she needs to achieve a big goal. 

Great way to talk about learning disabilities, support from others, bullying, persistence, and it never being too late.

Have you used books to introduce goal setting to elementary students? Comment below with your favorites.

Look for more goal setting resources?  Set Goals Together With Students or Why You Should Be Using SMART Goals in Counseling.

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Setting Goals with Elementary Students Using Books

I’m a school psychologist who left her office (closet?) and got busy turning a decade of experience into ready to use counseling and SEL resources.

I live in New York City with my adventurous husband and relaxed to the max daughter who’ve grown to appreciate my love of a good checklist.
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