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Teaching Courage with Literature

March 1st, 2018

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.”

~ Aristotle

Before we get to this month’s book list, did you see these adorable board books in the school store?!? Colorful books for babies and toddlers combining greek myths and character traits  – we love it!

Wow, it's March already. Be brave! Our character trait for this month is:

Courage: Attempting difficult things that are worthwhile and facing difficulties and challenges with determination to do the right thing even when others don’t.

Catch phrase: Dare to be different!

A couple of thoughts about Courage: Since our theme for this school year is “Daring Greatly,” this month’s character trait is something many of us have been practicing all year long. We'd love to hear your stories of daring greatly this year – email Down Home to share! 

Also, is it a coincidence that the spectacularly courageous Scott Kelly is visiting us this month? We can’t wait to hear about his daring adventures in space...

Courage is a character trait we often come across in our SLOCA history and literature readings. We know you are already having discussions at home about courageous characters and historical figures when they pop up. But here are a few books just for fun that prominently feature courage, if you want to add in a few of these during March:

Little One Step by Simon James 

Suggested ages: 2-5

Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” and this sweet book tells the story of a duckling who discovers the courage to do just that.

The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky

Suggested ages: 3-6

With rhyming text and colorful graphics, this story will reassure kids that not all strange noises are as scary as they seem.

Courage by Bernard Waber 

Suggested ages: 4-7

This book for little ones explores the many different kinds of courage, including the ordinary, everyday kinds.

Not Afraid of Dogs by Susanna Pitzer 

Suggested ages: 4-7

Daniel is not afraid of anything (except dogs). When his aunt’s dog Bandit comes to stay with them, he learns that the dog is afraid of thunderstorms, and in comforting the scared Bandit, he learns to love him and overcome his own fear.  A sweet story with appealing illustrations.

If I Never Forever Endeavor by Holly Meade 

Suggested ages: 4-8

A young bird contemplates whether or not he should endeavor to fly – it’s scary, and he might fail! But he also might soar, and he’ll never know if he doesn’t try. This poetic and charming book will inspire you to dare greatly.


Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Suggested ages: 4-8

An endearing story of a boy who is getting up the courage to jump off of the diving board, with the help of his patient and encouraging father.

The Bravest of Us All by Marsha Diane Arnold

Suggested ages: 4-8

A heartwarming story of strength and courage. Two sisters are about as different as can be – one is the courageous one, while the other, a younger sister, is shy and often scared. But when a tornado threatens and she must help save her older, braver sister, the younger one finds courage too.

Sheila Rae, the Brave by Kevin Henkes 

Suggested ages: 4-8

By the author of many popular children’s books, here’s another funny and warm-hearted story about siblings and courage. Sheila Rae, the self-declared brave one, needs a little support when she finds herself lost and scared, and thankfully her sister is there for her.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket 

Suggested ages: 4-8

Here’s an award-winning author teaming up with award-winning illustrator Jon Klassen to bring us a story of boy who’s afraid of the dark, and how he learns to conquer his fear.


Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine 

Suggested ages: 7-10

This award-winning book gives the riveting account of a slave who courageously mails himself to the North to gain his freedom.

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink 

Suggested ages: 8-12

A much-loved classic that is often compared to Little House on the Prairie, but with more adventure! It tells the story of a spirited and brave young girl, and is based on the life and memories of the author’s grandmother.

Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry 

Suggested ages: 8-12

No book list about courage would be complete without this middle-grade novel! A Newberry Award-winning classic, this is about a boy who fears the sea, but whose courage grows as he faces his fears and survives many challenges. 

Wonder by R. J. Palacio 

Suggested ages: 10-14

If your middle schooler hasn’t read Wonder yet, get it into their hands! Yes, it’s been made into a fantastic movie, but don’t miss this hope-filled book about courage and friendship.

Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse

Suggested ages: 10-14

One more middle-school level book – this one is based on a true account from the author's family. It's an exciting novel featuring a strong young heroine with courage and determination, who faces many obstacles as she immigrates to America from Russia in 1919

March: Book One by John Lewis 

Suggested ages: 13 and up

This is the first book in a trilogy of graphic novels about Congressman John Lewis, a key figure of the American Civil Rights movement. His desire for justice and nonviolence are portrayed in this striking account of his lifelong struggle for civil and human rights.

Here's this month’s downloadable mini-poster that you can print – click on the image to the right for the full-size PDF:



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