Every once in a while, I find a book that I know is meant for a particular class to read. It’s not that it wouldn’t benefit every class I’ve had; it’s just that the book perfectly addresses a social or emotional need in my current classroom. This was my exact feeling when I stumbled across I Am Darn Tough by Licia Morelli.
As I looked through the book, I loved each page more and more. It begins describing a girl remembering tying her shoes and preparing for a race. As the pages progress, the girl remembers more and more of the race. Eventually, she falls and contemplates giving up on the race. Then, she remembers how tough she is, and she persists in finishing the race. Each page is also filled with beautiful illustrations and has minimal text on each page.
This seemed perfect for my class. I have been struggling this year with students feeling like they aren’t good at things because they make mistakes, or they stumble and they want to give up. I understand their feelings. We are in a unique situation during an incredibly difficult year. My favorite thing to do in those situations: read more books! I Am Darn Tough fit the social emotional needs of my classroom perfectly. We also just began the fourth grade social issues persuasive writing unit. A truly perfect time to use this book for curriculum and social emotional needs.
Even though it had minimal text, I decided to read this aloud since I knew all of my students would benefit from it. However, it is a great text to give individual students to use as well. I wanted to see how my students could relate this text to our work with social issues. I was blown away. The students immediately understood the character trait of perseverance and could give concrete examples. They also had a discussion among each other about the social issues it addressed. They discussed that it reminded them of how difficult it can be to keep going when you feel like you want to give up. I even had a few students take that social issue and decide to do their writing free write around how they related to that issue.
I highly recommend this book! It can be used for so many different topics: social issues, character traits, themes, social/emotional learning, and even sequencing events. Check this out! It’s a great read aloud and a great addition to your independent reading library!