Picture Books About Courage And Perseverance

I finally read Pink Fire Trucks to my first grade class. I read it in conjunction with several picture books where the overarching message or theme was courage. Courage (as defined by dictionary.com) is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty or to have the courage of one’s convictions, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism.

We discussed instances where we have been afraid and where we have had to put on our “brave hat” in order to move forward and persevere.  I shared that I was deathly afraid of jumping off the high diving plank when I was taking swimming lessons as a young kid.  The students shared they are afraid of sleeping in the dark, sleeping alone, swimming in the ocean because a shark could bite you and of being called on by the teacher when they don’t know the answer. My heart melted at this last comment and I told them, “Get comfortable with not knowing the answer. It’s OK because none of us will ever know all of the answers. What matters is that we keep on trying, learning and most importantly, don’t ever give up.”

As we read the different picture books, the students were able to see how the characters faced difficult challenges and how through hard work they found the courage to persevere.  One student commented, “That’s hard work, huh Ms. Barbieri?”  I responded, “Sure is. There are two types of people. People that make it happen and people that come up with a bunch of excuses. Which one do you want to be?”

They all said they wanted to make things happen. On the back of the fire truck art project they wrote what they want to be when they grow up. I have a few doctors, astronauts, fire fighters, teachers and future Presidents of the United States of America. I hope so!

These are the books that I read:

1. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

2. Grace For President by Kelly DiPucchio

3. Unspoken by Henry Cole

4. The Little Seahorse by Sheri Fink

2014 San Francisco Book Festival

san francisco book festival


My family immigrated to San Francisco from Nicaragua and El Salvador in the early 1950’s.  My dad worked at the the Top of the Mark as a busboy as he hustled to pay for his college education at San Francisco State University.  My mom worked as a nanny for an affluent family and as a chamber maid at a hotel so she could pay for her college courses at San Francisco City College.  Both my sister and I were born in San Francisco.  I went to the University of San Francisco. My little sister went to UC Berkeley and my little brother is currently studying at San Francisco State.  And even though I was raised and still live in Los Angeles, San Francisco is home to me in so many ways. I experienced so many firsts here and experienced lots of joy and sadness in this beautiful city.  At USF I took a Latino Literature course with “Padre Pelón.  He took the class on a field trip to City Lights Bookstore where I had the opportunity to listen to Sandra Cisneros read from her book, House On Mango Street.  I was so overcome with emotion at listening to this oh so cool lady at this oh so cool venue I thought I could die.  Padre Pelón said, “That could be you mija if you get serious about your writing.”  I laughed it off and twenty years later, I’m finally taking him up on his advice.  Rest in peace Padre Pelón…you are the perfect example of an inspiring teacher and friend.

PINK FIRE TRUCKS: 2014 San Francisco Book Festival: Children’s Books Honorable Mention

What does this mean friends? It means my name is mentioned, I’m starting out and I have my foot in the door;)

Lastly, a big yahoo to the book winners!