6 Picture Books to Help Teach Goal Setting with Students

goal setting for upper elementary



Student goal setting is a powerful way to kick off the school year. It sets the tone that you believe your students can achieve anything and that you are there to help them along the way.

That is why I set time aside the first few weeks of school to meet with students individually, help them set attainable SMART goals, create a plan of action, and teach them how to self-progress monitor the goals that they set.

Goal setting is also an important component in classroom communities that focus on a growth mindset. When your students set their own goals, they take ownership of their learning, and persevere to reach their goals; setting new ones frequently.

Start your goal setting lessons with these picture books to get your students invested in their own learning and set individual learning goals to help them stretch and grow AND grab the free goal setting printables at the bottom of this post that you can use with any of these books!


SMART goal setting for kids

Jeremiah Learns to Read written by Jo Bogart

This book is probably the most borrowed book from my extensive collection. Teachers of all ages love reading this book to their students. Jeremiah Learns to Read tells the story of an elderly man who wants to go back to school to learn to read. Jeremiah ends up setting his goal, discussing it with his wife, and then attending school to achieve something he never thought was possible. This book sends two powerful messages: you are never too old to learn something new and every goal is attainable.


6 Picture Books to Help Teach Goal Setting with Students


After the Fall written by Dan Santat

This book tells the story of Humpty Dumpty and what he does after his fall. I love the message about getting back up again, dusting yourself, and trying again. The surprise ending will have your students remembering this book and its message for a long time. This is perfect for goal setting lessons as Humpty sets a goal, collects ideas, and perseveres as he puts it all into action.



salt in his shoes picture book activity

Salt in His Shoes written by Deloris Jordon

This true story about the childhood of Michael Jordan is both a crowd-pleaser and inspirational. In this book, we meet young Michael who has big dreams but does not believe in himself. He sets up an action plan, gets to work, and with a little help from his loving family, he sees the power in himself. I read this book the second day of school every year and each year it sparks such meaningful discussions about goal setting and growth mindset. This is a must to add to your classroom library.


goal setting lessons for elementary


Ruby's Wish written by Shirin Yim Bridges

Ruby's Wish is a true story written about the author's grandmother, making it extra special to read during goal setting lessons. Young Ruby wants nothing more than to be able to learn and attend a university like her male cousins. It takes bravery and courage for Ruby to reach her goal. this book lends itself to amazing conversations about much more than just goal setting.


picture books for back to school

Because written by Mo Willems

Anything by Mo Willems is a home run, but this will be your new favorite! Because works backward telling the story of a successful orchestra conductor's start to where she is now. This book lends itself perfectly to explain the why and how of setting and accomplishing goals.


free smart goal setting activities for kids

Thank You Mr. Falker written by Patrica Polacco

This book is especially powerful for goal setting lessons because it is an autobiography. This book follows Trisha as she struggles to learn how to read. After connecting with a very special teacher, she learns that she has dyslexia. This helps her to realize that she needs to learn a different way and set goals with specific strategies for herself. This book will support your discussions of how important having a growth mindset is the learning process, the use of different strategies, goal setting, and perseverance.


When it comes to back to school activities, make sure that student goal setting is at the top of your list. It is well worth the time spent setting individualized SMART goals with your students to set the tone for a meaningful year ahead.


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6 Picture Books to Help Teach Goal Setting with Students






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