Using Story Books to Help Foster Resilience

Posted: November 13, 2023



Do you remember the story of the little turtle who was afraid to sleep in his shell because he was afraid of the dark? Do you remember that he went on a journey and talked to his friends, asking them if they were afraid of anything and what they did to cope with their fear? Do you remember that in the end, he figured out how to cope with his fear of the dark and used a nightlight when he went to sleep in his shell?

This endearing story allowed you to observe and discover how the little turtle dealt with a problem. He asked for help from friends and developed resilience to cope with his fear of the dark. He did not give up!

What is resilience?

Resilience is being able to get through the challenges life throws you and figure out how to get through those challenges successfully and come out winning. We are born with the capacity for resilience, but it’s not something you either have or don’t have. You work on resilience EVERY DAY.

Why is it important to develop resilience?

Having the capacity to become resilient and use skills to cope makes a big difference in your life. If you can manage to effectively use your resilience to get through life’s messy situations, then you will live healthier and longer, be happier in relationships, be more successful in school and at work and will have better mental health. (Best Start: https://resources.beststart.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/K35-E.pdf. 2020)

Parents are the most important people to help build their child’s resiliency skills. Why? Children learn by watching their parents and when parents are able to cope with every day stress, they are being role models for their children. Many of the ways that support healthy development in your child will also help build their resilience. These include having a secure bond with a caring adult, developing relationships with positive role models and having opportunities to learn new skills and participate in meaningful activities.

How can story books foster resilience?

There are a lot of children’s books that explore feelings and types of situations where those feelings may arise. Such stories offer children a chance to learn about and discover new ways to improve their own experiences and gain a better understanding of their relationships and interactions with others. Your child may be able to relate to the story and understand it, but having a conversation with your child about what the character is experiencing and how they solved their problem will go a long way. Ask your child open-ended questions, as they will help to draw out your child’s thoughts and feelings. Remember – conversations build connections!

When choosing a story about resilience to read to your child, consider the following questions:
• Is it age appropriate? Will my child be able to understand what is happening?
• Will your child be able to relate to the character(s)?
• Does the story line present some type of difficulty, relate how the problem started and offer possible solutions?
• Will your child be introduced to problem solving and/or self-regulation skills that they could possibly use to help them overcome difficulties?

Here are some great story books that showcase resilience you may wish to read to your child.

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin, art by James Dean. Pete the Cat loves his white shoes, but he keeps stepping into piles of things that makes a mess on his shoes. Instead of getting upset, Pete shrugs it off and carries on, singing about his shoes.

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, illustrations by Guy Parker-Rees. Gerald the Giraffe can’t dance elegantly because of his long neck and spindly legs. He wants to dance, but just can’t seem to be as graceful as the other animals. He almost gives up until a wise cricket encourages him to keep trying. In the end, Gerald finds that he can dance when he finds music that he loves and that moves him.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. This story is perfect for those children facing a new experience. School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester’s fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko. Even though Princess Elizabeth has lost everything when a dragon burned down her castle and kidnaps Prince Ronald, she shows resilience by dusting herself off, donning a paper bag and makes a plan to rescue Prince Ronald.

Building Resilience in Young Children:https://resources.beststart.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/K35-E.pdf