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I Believe I Can: The Power of Teaching Self Esteem

“I Believe I Can” by Grace Byers is a story that you will instantly fall in love this. Maybe I say this too much, or maybe not enough…but this one is a must-read! Grace Byers gives students a chance to see themselves in this encouraging book.  Students are able to recognize that they are powerful, that they can take risks to try things that they may enjoy, and realize that failure or defeat is only temporary.  It shows students that you believe in them and all that they can do, and that they can believe in themselves too.  It will inspire confidence and self-acceptance and empower students to believe in all that they can achieve.  The similes and metaphors throughout the book lend themselves to amazing lessons, while also discussing the importance of believing in our own capabilities.

The book has a wonderful message that allows you to open up conversations with your students about being proud, staying optimistic, learning from defeat, and celebrating successes. We are naturally hard on ourselves and kids begin that at an early age too…”my drawing is no good”, “I'm not good at sports”, “I'm not good at math.” We can change this inner dialogue to ring positive thoughts for our kids and the positive affirmations throughout the book are inspiring students to believe in their own potential.

Skills to teach with “I Believe I Can”:

  • Simile
  • Metaphor
  • Connections
  • Theme
  • Inferences

5 Favorite ” I Believe I Can ” Activities

“I Believe I Can ” is such a great book to read with your students. You have the opportunity to discuss positive affirmations, the power of self-esteem, staying optimistic, believing in our own potential, celebrating successes, learning from defeat, and perseverance.

Here are some of my favorite activities to do after reading the book.

1. I am Worthy…

Students can write adjectives to describe themselves, thinking of what value they bring to the classroom and the world. Students can think beyond words that describe their appearance and truly begin to think about their value to friendships, family, the classroom, and the community.

Embracing their strengths and showing pride in what makes them unique will empower students and make them feel welcome and accepted in your classroom.

2. Sharing Your Talents…

This book lends so many opportunities to get to know your students and their interests. As the book shares hobbies, talents, and strengths; students can think of their own talents and things that they are capable of. Students feel such a sense of pride when they share their interests and feel that others are interested in something they are too. You can have students write about their hobbies, interests, and discuss some things that they enjoy.

3. Experiencing Defeat…

One of the most impactful parts of “I Believe I Can” is that the book addresses when we make mistakes and experience defeat. And students can relate to the frustration and disappointment of those times. It is a great opportunity to discuss turning those defeats into learning experiences where you can “dust off and try again.” It may be easier said than done, but when you equip students with the strategies that they need to overcome defeat, they will be prepared when they are faced with those feelings.

Students can write about a time that they felt defeated. They can share how they felt, what they did, and what they learned. Students oftentimes think “defeat” means losing a game or contest; but as you discuss this story, you can open their eyes to see that it is not always a tangible “win or lose” situation that leaves us defeated.

4. Self-Reflection…

Reflecting on times where quitting felt easy is never easy. Students may feel uneasy to admit that they wanted to quit or give up. You may share a time that you wanted to give up or even times when you may have quit, and help students realize that defeat or failure was only temporary.  When we think of quitting, many times students think of a game or sport, but it can go much deeper than that and when they realize the feeling is only temporary, they can think of strategies to help them the next time they face a similar challenge.

Students can write about a time that they felt like quitting or when something felt like it was too hard. They can share how they were “cement” and held on, even when it was tough.

5. Coping with Feelings…

The book offers the opportunity to discuss strategies students can use when they are feeling afraid, worried, or nervous.  They may not realize how to cope with these feelings and creating actionable strategies and discussing them will help ease those worries.

Students can write down strategies that they use when they are feeling scared or worried. If students are comfortable doing so, you can have them share strategies with a partner, small group, or a whole class. Students may open up and feel comfortable sharing how they cope with the feelings of worry or fear and help other students find strategies that can be helpful.

I Believe I Can” is such a special book to share with your students. While students think about times that were challenging, they can also think about the things that they learned from those times.  Reflecting on challenges will help us to look back and see it was not only temporary but also a time to learn. This book teaches a great lesson in believing in yourself and all that you can do.

I hope you and your students love it!

You can grab a free one-page guide for using this book in your classroom here:

You can find more of my favorite read-aloud books HERE.

And read more about why I think reading aloud is so important HERE.

You might like this blog post about self-love.

Check out all of my posts with favorite read-aloud books HERE.

You might also like to read more about these books:

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Happy Teaching!

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