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The 10 Best Picture Books to Teach Students SMART Goal Setting


SMART Goal Student Picture Books

Visualize your students as puzzle solvers, each with a scattered jigsaw puzzle in front of them. What's the best method that brings the pieces together to reveal a completed picture? You guessed it—using SMART goals with your students!


But hold on, this isn't just another buzzword in education. It's the toolkit that transforms ordinary students into extraordinary achievers, which is something all teachers can get on board with and witness success! And today we are sharing the top10 must-have picture books to help your students understand everything about a growth mindset and SMART goals. As a BONUS we have included insightful discussion questions for each book to make teaching goal setting a breeze!



SMART Goals for Students

Goal setting isn't merely about jotting down dreams on paper. It's about guiding our students to envision big dreams, set ambitious targets, and navigate their own path to success.


Now, why should you be thrilled about teaching goal setting? Well, the benefits are as thrilling as reading a jaw-dropping plot twist in your favorite book. These advantages are like the unexpected turns and make teaching and learning truly a passion.


Why Setting Goals Is Important

So why teach goal setting at all? It is a powerful spark for personal and intellectual growth. It's more than just writing down dreams; it's about lighting the fire of achievement in students. Students achievement is great, but did you also realize that the goal setting process provides these additional benefits:

  • Promoting Brain Development: When students set goals, they engage their brains in recalling situations, emotions, and facts, which enhances cognitive development.

  • Developing Analyzation Skills: Goal setting encourages students to analyze their current situation and think critically about what they want to achieve.

  • Fostering a Growth Mindset: Setting and working towards goals can foster a growth mindset, teaching students that they can improve through effort and perseverance.

  • Encouraging Active Participation: Goal setting promotes active participation in academic, social, and emotional growth, motivating students to take charge of their learning journey.

  • Promoting Positive Traits: It encourages traits like effort, practice, hard work, persistence, and self-confidence, which are vital for success in various aspects of life.


What Are Student SMART Goals?

So, how can teachers effectively teach goal setting to students?


Enter SMART goals—a structured and effective approach. SMART is an acronym that leads your students through a step-by-step process of creating achievable goals.


  • S - Specific: The goal should be clear and specific, answering questions like "What do I want to accomplish?" and "Why is it important?"

  • M - Measurable: Students should be able to track their progress and know when they have achieved the goal.

  • A - Action Plan: What steps will the student take to achieve the goal? This sets the path for success.

  • R - Realistic: Goals should be attainable, challenging but not impossible. They should align with the student's abilities and resources.

  • T - Time Frame: Students need to set a target date for achieving their goal. This adds urgency and focus.


SMART goals break down the goal-setting process into easy, manageable pieces that provide a scaffold to success! Understanding how to break those "big" goals into "little" steps will take practice and patience. But, as they get the hang of it, students will start to feel more confident.


Your students will get better at creating, measuring, and nailing their own unique SMART goals. It's all about growth and learning! Don't worry if it seems a bit tricky at first. Keep guiding them, and you'll watch them become experts at setting and achieving their SMART goals, ready to conquer whatever challenges come their way.


Read more about How to Effectively Use SMART Goal Strategies or grab this FREE SMART Goal Setting Kit to get started and guide you through the process!


Now, let's explore how these can’t miss picture books can be invaluable tools in teaching students about SMART goal setting.


Picture Books: A SMART Way to Teach Goal Setting for Students

Using picture books to teach SMART goal setting is like adding a splash of color to a canvas—it makes the process more engaging, relatable, and memorable. Picture books play the role of educational storytellers, with alluring story lines that both capture students' attention and leave a lasting impact. Keep reading to find captivating picture books that will empower your students with a deeper understanding and appreciation of SMART goals. Plus we have included insightful questions to spark discuss about growth mindset and goal-setting!


Let's get to it! Here are your10 go-to picture books for easily teaching SMART goals:


In "Salt in His Shoes," young readers dive into the inspirational journey of Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Through this story, children learn about the power of setting ambitious goals and persevering through challenges. It's a tale of determination, emphasizing that even the most accomplished individuals once started with a dream and a goal to achieve greatness.


Discussion Questions:

  • How did Michael Jordan's determination and goal-setting help him become one of the greatest basketball players of all time?

  • Can you relate to a time when you had a big dream or goal? How did you work towards achieving it?

  • What challenges did Michael Jordan face on his journey, and how did he overcome them?


"The Most Magnificent Thing" follows the story of a creative and determined young girl who embarks on an invention journey. Along the way, she encounters setbacks and frustrations, but her commitment to her goal drives her to keep trying. This book beautifully illustrates the process of setting SMART goals and teaches kids the importance of persistence and problem-solving in reaching their objectives.


Discussion Questions:

  • What does this story teach us about setting SMART goals and the importance of persistence in achieving them?

  • Have you ever had a project or goal that seemed challenging or frustrating at first? How did you handle it?

  • How does the main character's commitment to her goal inspire you to pursue your own goals, even when faced with obstacles?


"The Dot" encourages children to embrace their artistic aspirations. It introduces the idea that setting goals in the world of art is about taking that first step, just like making a dot on a blank canvas. The story emphasizes the value of self-expression and how setting small, achievable goals can lead to creative success.


Discussion Questions:

  • How does the book encourage self-expression and setting creative goals through the character Vashti and her dot on the canvas?

  • Why is it important to start with small, achievable goals when pursuing a creative endeavor?

  • Can you think of a time when you were inspired to try something creative because of a small step you took, like Vashti's dot?


Rosie Revere, the young inventor in this delightful book, dreams of becoming a great engineer. Her story teaches children the importance of setting goals to pursue their passions, even when they encounter failures or setbacks. Rosie's determination and creativity inspire young readers to set their sights high and never give up on their dreams.


Discussion Questions:

  • What goals does Rosie set for herself, and how does she work toward achieving them?

  • How does Rosie's determination and creativity inspire you to pursue your passions and not give up, even when facing failures or setbacks?

  • Can you think of a goal or dream you have that you'd like to pursue with the same determination as Rosie?


"What Do You Do with an Idea?" explores the incredible potential of ideas and encourages students to set goals for bringing their own unique concepts to life. This book demonstrates that nurturing and believing in one's ideas is a fundamental step toward achieving goals and making a positive impact on the world.


Discussion Questions:

  • How does the book emphasize the importance of nurturing and believing in one's ideas when setting goals?

  • Can you share a personal idea or concept you'd like to bring to life as a goal? How do you plan to nurture it?

  • How might embracing your unique ideas lead to achieving your goals and making a positive impact on the world?


While not specifically about goal setting, "Beautiful Oops!" encourages children to see mistakes as opportunities for growth. It teaches that errors are a natural part of any creative process and that the ability to learn from them is a valuable skill when pursuing goals.


Discussion Questions:

  • How does the book "Beautiful Oops!" change the way you think about mistakes?

  • Can you think of a situation where a mistake led to something positive?

  • How might embracing mistakes help you when you're working toward a goal?


"I Can't Do That, YET" introduces the concept of a growth mindset to young readers. It shows that by adopting a "yet" mentality, children can set goals, embrace challenges, and understand that they can improve and achieve their objectives through effort and perseverance.


Discussion Questions:

  • What does it mean to have a "yet" mentality?

  • Can you think of a time when you faced a challenge and persevered to overcome it?

  • How can adopting a growth mindset help you in your everyday life?


"Ruby's Wish" is a captivating story set in historical China, where young Ruby aspires to receive the education typically reserved for boys. Her determination and the support she receives from her family highlight the significance of setting academic goals and breaking gender stereotypes.


Discussion Questions:

  • How does Ruby's determination to receive an education challenge stereotypes of her time? What can we learn from her determination when setting our own goals?

  • In what ways did Ruby's family support her in pursuing her academic goals? How important is having a support system when working towards your own goals?

  • Can you think of a goal you have related to education or breaking stereotypes? How can Ruby's story inspire you to pursue it?


This book centers around a character who is known for never making mistakes, but it teaches the valuable lesson that embracing imperfection is essential when striving for personal growth and goal achievement. Children learn that it's okay to make mistakes along the way to success.


Discussion Questions:

  • How did the main character's attitude toward mistakes change throughout the story?

  • Can you think of a time when you were afraid to make a mistake? What happened?

  • How might embracing imperfection help you when you're striving to achieve a goal?


"The Little Engine That Could" is a timeless classic that instills in young readers the belief that with determination and a positive attitude, they can conquer challenges and achieve their goals. This enduring story emphasizes the importance of perseverance and self-motivation.


Discussion Questions:

  • How does the story of the little blue engine demonstrate the power of determination and a positive attitude when facing challenges?

  • Can you think of a time when you faced a challenge that felt too big or difficult? How did you approach it, and did your attitude play a role in your success?

  • How does the story of the little engine inspire you to persevere and stay motivated when working towards your own goals?


Incorporating these picture books into your teaching approach can make the journey of goal setting for students more engaging and relatable. Through these stories, your students will not only learn about SMART goals but also gain valuable life lessons about determination, persistence, and believing in themselves.


So, why not infuse a little creativity and storytelling into your goal-setting lessons? After all, when it comes to teaching SMART goals for students, picture books are a SMART choice.



Easily Introduce SMART Goal Setting to Students

SMART Goal Setting Slides Teacher Resource

Want a way to jump start the SMART Goal process in your class? Grab one of the amazing books and pair it with this SMART Goal Setting Slides Set! Your ultimate ally for developing a growth mindset and teaching goal setting a breeze. These slides will guide your students through key goal-setting topics and help them nurture that all-important growth mindset. And the best part? You have the freedom to pick and choose the slides that suit your teaching style best. Get ready to light the fire of growth and goal achievement with your students!



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