Teaching through literature: “I can do it!”

Lately, my son (30 months) has started to whine: “I can’t! I can’t!”  Sometimes, this is because he wants to whine, but sometimes, I can see that he really doesn’t want to try.  Every time I hear him say “I can’t!” I repeat: “I think I can!” or “I can do it!” so that his negative phrase will be countered with my more positive one.  Overall, this has been having a good  and lasting effect. These chosen phrases are from books that have taught important (and fun!) lessons to John.

from head to toe

From Head To Toe by Eric Carle is a wonderful little animal book.  The book moves from a child’s neck to his toes.  It encourages children to try to move their bodies and mimic the animals on the pages.  I like to use the phrase “I can do it!” throughout the day when John is getting frustrated.

I am a penguin and I move my head.  Can you do it?  I can do it!

I am a gorilla and I thump my chest.  Can you do it?  I can do it!


And we also have been reading the classic children’s book The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. This book tells the story of a little engine who agrees to bring the sweet little train cars filled with toys and dolls for children over the mountain.  While in the midst of the struggle, he exclaims, “I think I can!”  And when he’s done, he exclaims, “I thought I could!” Even though it was difficult, we continue to try amidst trials.

“I think I can! I think I can!”

“I thought I could! I thought I could!”


Our third book is teaching us that we can “try!”  Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss is specifically referencing food when Sam states, “You do not like them, so you say, try them, try them, and you may!”  And the cat looooves his green eggs and ham because he decides to try them!  This doesn’t need only relate to food — children can learn that trying new things can be fun and rewarding!

“Try them, try them, and you may!”


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