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Picture Books about Flexible Thinking and Dealing with Change for Kids

In a world that's constantly changing, teaching our children to be flexible thinkers is more important than ever. Flexible thinking allows us to adapt to new situations, solve problems creatively, and embrace life's twists and turns with ease. But how do we instill this invaluable skill in kids? Books are a great way to introduce flexible thinking skills to kids! In this blog post, I will share picture books for kids all about creative and flexible thinking skills.

These books can be powerful tools in teaching children about flexibility in thinking and acting. Through stories and illustrations, children can learn to see the world through different lenses, recognize the value of adaptability, and understand that it's okay to feel stuck sometimes—as long as we're willing to look for ways to get unstuck. For videos and activities to teach flexible thinking to kids, be sure to check out this blog post.

Creative and Flexible Thinking Books

Books that inspire creativity and flexible thinking introduce children to the idea that there's more than one way to solve a problem. These stories encourage thinking outside the box and show kids the power of imagination in overcoming obstacles.

If you're looking to get just one book on flexible thinking, My Day is Ruined! A Story for Teaching Flexible Thinking by Bryan Smith should be at the top of your list! In this story, Braden, a third-grader who struggles with adapting to changes to his routine—like unexpected fire drills or rained-out baseball games, learn to be a more flexible thinker. With help from his Mom, Braden discovers that being flexible in thinking means getting creative with your thinking thinking, not giving up, and when one thing doesn’t work, you need to try something else instead. Braden learns four key steps to becoming more adaptable: taking a moment to breathe, recognizing what’s beyond his control, coming up with a new plan, and accepting the change. This book is a helpful guide for kids to navigate the curveballs life throws their way!

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak is a great book for the older kids who are interested in science, particularly those in upper elementary school. This book dives into the brain’s anatomy, all while connecting it to the concept of growth by learning and trying new things. Deak explains how pushing beyond comfort zones can expand and strengthen your brain. It’s a cool pick to show kids the tangible benefits of stretching their minds.

A Little Spot of Flexible Thinking by Diane Alber is a cute book that describes flexible thinking as being like a palm tree instead of rigid thinking, like an oak tree. Also included in this story are some useful tips like starting the day with words of motivation, coming up with a different way to do something, and making a back up plan to deal with change. There is also a super cute animated video with a song that goes with the book. Check out the blog here for more video ideas!

Adaptable Ninja by Mary Nhin talks about being flexible and adoptable like water so you can handle change well. It explains rigid thinking as being like ice. Ice is hard and inflexible and water is flexible and able to change its shape and can go with the flow.

The End is Just the Beginning by Mike Bender offers a clever way to teach flexible thinking to kids. In this book, kids learn how endings are often just the start of something new. Mike Bender wraps this message in a fun story that shows the flip side of typical conclusions—like how the end of a day leads into the night, or a disagreement opens the door to making up, or the end of a mistake means the beginning of learning something new. It’s a smart way to introduce kids to the concept of endings, beginnings, cycles, and learning from experiences.

Tilda Tries Again by Tom Percival follows Tilda as she navigates through a rough patch where everything feels upside down. This is a great book for kids who feel Iike they’re in a funk and like nothing is working out for them. Tilda is inspired by an upside-down ladybug and she learns the importance of persistence and not giving up. It’s a simple reminder that sometimes, you have to keep pushing even when things get tough.

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis is a super fun book about a bunny who uses his imagination to play and turn a cardboard box into many different things. This would be a great book to read and then give the child their own box to make something from.

Books About Making the Most of What You Have

Sometimes, things don't go as planned—and that's okay. Picture books that focus on making the best of what you have can teach children to find opportunity in unexpected places. These stories encourage kids to make the most of what tehy have.

Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra by Susan Hood tells the real-life story of a girl named Ada from a town in Paraguay that was built on a landfill. Ada and the other kids in her town are flexible because when they want to learn how to play instruments, but don’t have the money to buy new ones, they build themselves instruments from recycled materials! Ada and her band even end up going on tour and opening up for a famous rock band! Ada and her friends embody the essence of making the best out of a difficult situation. This book is a testament to innovation and thinking outside the box.

In Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett, we meet a kid who’s less than thrilled about getting a goldfish for a pet instead of a more cuddle-friendly pet, like a dog. But through spending time with his goldfish Norman, he starts to see his pet in a new light. It’s a good story about being flexible and appreciating what you have, even if it wasn’t what you initially wanted.

Picture Books about Handling Disappointment

Disappointment is a part of life, but how we deal with it can make all the difference. Through these stories, children can learn that it's natural to feel let down sometimes, but bouncing back is within their power too.

A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell is a super cute and fun picture book about dealing with disappointment. The narrator who tells the story stops when there’s jelly, peanut butter, and then scribbles in the book! Kids will love to see how he deals with and overcomes his disappointment.

Flexible Thinking Ninja by Mary Nhin offers kids some ideas to be a flexible thinker by trying to play a game in a new way, such as climbing up the slide and going down the ladders in Chutes and Ladders, to tell jokes that play on the meaning of words, or tying your shoes in a different way. 

Saturday by Oge Mora is a sweet story that follows a girl and her Mom as they navigate a series of letdowns on their special day together. It's a helpful story about dealing with things not going as planned and finding joy in the moments you have, regardless of the setbacks.

They learn how to navigate disappointment together in the story.

Mr. Fish’s vacation doesn’t go as planned in The Pout-Pout Fish Far, Far from Home by Deborah Diesen. Mr. Fish is very excited about his first vacation but along the way, he hits a detour and faces many problems. Every part of his trip seems to hit a snag. Mr. Fish feels disappointed and wants to go home because his plans keep falling through! But then he takes a deep breath, thinks a happy thought about his family, and goes to sleep for the night. He shows us how to flexible by continuing on with his travels. So instead of calling it quits, Mr. Fish decides to push through, proving that sometimes, you have to roll with the punches to make the most of your adventures. In the end he says, “not every every single part of a trip goes swell, but the detours and the bumps are the trip as well.” This book is a fun way to show kids that not everything goes according to plan, and that’s okay.

Get Unstuck from Disappointment by Gill Hassan and Sarah Jennings reads more like a social story and it breaks down how to handle letdowns in a way that’s easy for kids to grasp. It covers feeling disappointed, finding ways to deal with it, and moving forward. The book offers practical advice without sugar-coating the reality that disappointment happens. It would be a great introduction to a lesson on handling disappointment.

Picture Books about Dealing with Change and Trying New Things

Change can be hard for many kids, but it's also an opportunity for growth. These picture books about dealing with change and trying new things can help children understand that adapting to new situations can lead to adventures and learning.

The Creature of Habit by Jennifer E. Smith is an adorably illustrated picture book that is a great story for kids who are rigid thinkers and want things to go exactly according to their plan. This book explores what happens when a creature set in his ways is faced with unpredictability. This story takes place on the island of habit, where a creature lived, who did the same exact things every day in the same order. This reature loves his routine. And then one day he meets annother creature who’s his total opposite. This new creature does things very differently and doesn’t follow his schedule or routine. He has some big feelings about this at first but then he learns to have an open mind and be a more flexible thinker.  It’s a cute story about learning to be open to change and the benefits of flexibility.

Mr. Flux by Kyo Maclear and Matte Stephens tells the story of Martin’s neighborhood, which gets a shaken-up with the arrival of Mr. Flux, a creative artist who loves change and to mix things up! It’s a story that shows how a community learns to accept and even embrace the new and different. It’s a neat way to introduce the idea that change isn’t always a bad thing.

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban is about a raccoon who loves her bread and jam—until she doesn’t. This book tackles the topic of trying new things through Frances’s journey from a one-food wonder to trying new foods. It’s a simple story for any kid who’s ever been picky about their food.

The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright is a story about a Koala named Kevin who’s not keen on leaving his comfy tree. When he was down on the ground, it was too fast and too loud and too strange for him. He didn’t like to try new things he was missing out on playtime and adventures because he didn’t want to come down from his tree. Kevin is quite scared to go down on the ground. This book looks at what happens when Kevin’s quiet life is disrupted by a woodpecker, forcing him to confront his fears. This is a great book for kids about being brave or those who are fearful of trying something new.

Picture Books About Feeling Stuck

Feeling stuck is an experience everyone faces, but getting unstuck is where the magic happens. These stories show children that everyone feels stuck by their thoughts or circumstances at times, but with a bit of creative thinking and determination, they can find their way out.

I Am Stuck by Julia Mills is a super cute book about a turtle that can’t flip back over and the suggestions he gets from other animals on how to get unstuck like wiggling your feet, wagging your tail, or rolling in a ball. It’s a funny book that kids will love and at the end there are some practical tips on dealing with feeling stuck like using your senses, talking about it, or taking a deep breath. This is an amusing book and it might just teach kids a thing or two about problem-solving.

Flexible Thinking Activities to Go with Your Flexible Thinking Picture Books!

If you're looking for flexible thinking social skills activities to go with these booka, then this fun bundle to work on cognitive flexibility is for you! This is a great bundle if your kids need some help with dealing with change, going with the flow, being adaptable, creativity, problem-solving, coping with adversity, and handling disappointment.

Students will learn what flexible and stuck thinking is by reading a social story, playing games, reading, writing, and doing other engaging activities while practicing their cognitive shifting skills! 

All Sets Includes: ✨

✔ S.M.A.R.T. IEP and Treatment Plan Objectives for Easy Goal Writing!

✔ Editable Letter to Families About the Topic

✔ Data Collection Sheet 

✔ Suggested Companion Resources

✔ Ideas to Extend and Practice the Concept 

✔ Resources Come in Digital, Print, Color, and Black and White

✔ "I Can" Learning Statements Poster

✔ Playing a Game Visual Poster

✔ Positive Notes Home

✔ Game Board with Spinner, Pawns, and Dice in a Digital and Printable Version

✔ 45 Flexible Thinking Scenario Cards with a Digital and Printable Version

✔ Stuck and Flexible Thinking Sorting Mats

✔ Dice with Reflection Questions 

✔ 12 Page Social Story Booklet in Digital and Printable Formats

✔ 24 Flexible Thinking Prompt Cards for Discussion and Reflection

✔ Board Game with Spinners, Pawns, and Dice (Digital and Print)

✔ 34 Flexible Thinking Worksheets and Coloring Pages

✔ Story with Reflection Questions

✔ Writing Response

✔ Graphic Organizers

✔ Cut and Paste Worksheet

✔ Quotes for Discussion Prompts

✔ 6 Page Perspective Taking Skills Flipbook

✔ Was I Showing Flexible Thinking Today? Self-Reflection Worksheet

You can get them all at a discount in this Social Skills Treasury Growing Bundle or the Flexible Thinking Bundle.

Free Printable Flexible Thinking Activities

If you're looking for a sample, check out these free flexible thinking activities including a positive note home, discussion dice, and a bingo board with some flexible thinking ideas to try! All you have to do is subscribe to my free SEL resource library at the top of this page or here. Once you opt-in, you'll get on my email list and unlock my SEL resource library! I suggest using a personal email, rather than a work email. If you don't get the automatic email check your promo/spam folders.

For videos to teach flexible thinking to kids, be sure to check out this blog post.

Do you have more favorite books to show flexible thinking, stuck thinking, handling disappointment, and adapting to change? Let me know here!



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