Short Motivational Stories for Kids

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you are trying to talk to kids about trying harder or doing their best, it can be a great idea to start with some motivational stories. This lesson offers some ideas for good stories for motivating young learners.

Reading Motivational Stories

Motivation can be a really tricky thing to work on with children, whether as a parent or as a teacher. Of course you want your kids to try their hardest and do their best, but you can only say that so many times before you start to sound like a broken record. One way around this problem is to find stories that offer children motivational messages. Often, stories and books are great for this kind of social and emotional learning because they allow children to think about the message you hope they get, but at something of a safe distance. Moreover, motivational stories can help kids feel excited about reading, and that is one of the most important gifts you can offer. The stories in this lesson offer a variety of motivational messages for kids.

Motivational Stories

Each story is followed by a summary and some ideas about what kids will find most appealing about it.

A Bad Case of the Stripes, by David Shannon

This book tells the story about a little girl who wakes up one morning covered in different colored stripes. She feels like she will get made fun of and does not want to go to school. In fact, when she does get to school, others make fun of her. However, she learns that her striped colors have some surprising powers, such as allowing berries and crystals to grow from her skin! Eventually she learns that her difference can actually be her biggest strength. The positive yet subtle messages in this text motivate kids to celebrate their differences. The vivid illustrations and rife imagination in the text will appeal to readers of all ages.

Thank You, Mr. Falker, by Patricia Polacco

Polacco tells a slightly fictionalized version of her own intense struggles with learning to read. She was dyslexic as a young child and believed that she was stupid and would never be able to enjoy learning, until a wonderful teacher had faith in her. The story is very motivational for kids who are struggling with any kind of learning, especially as Polacco grew to become a renowned children's author. Polacco's autobiographical note at the end, reflecting on her own struggles, makes the text especially meaningful.

Beautiful Oops, by Barney Saltzberg

In this story, kids will learn that making a mistake is not the end of the world! Saltzberg shows how a mistake can turn into something wonderful and imaginative, demonstrating that it is important to develop your own perspective on the things that you do. This is a great story for kids who struggle to move on once they have made a mistake, or who feel badly about their own imperfections. The text is interactive, including tears and smudges, and draws readers in with its inspirational messages about turning errors into beauty.

Enemy Pie, by Derek Munson

The two boys in this book identify each other as enemies; they are competitive and want nothing to do with one another. Then, one of their dads suggests that they might enjoy sharing enemy pie together, and before too long, they have become friends. The story is motivating for kids who struggle with friendship or who do not want to give others a second chance. The illustrations really convey the boys' emotions as they change their perspectives throughout the story.

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