Being courageous is a lot—A LOT—easier said than done.

Still, wherever and whenever they are called to face their fears, we all want our children to respond by using their authentic voices and leaning in to show the challenge who’s the boss. But how do we impart this critical skill?

At Galileo Camps, being courageous is one of five mindset elements at the core of the Galileo Innovation Approach—the backbone of our programs. We use the following three I-statements to help children understand and activate their courageous powers


  • I freely share my creative thoughts.
  • I stretch myself to try new things.
  • I embrace challenges.

At home, one way to focus on the meaning and importance of being courageous is by sharing stories that highlight these sensibilities, your own or those from books, and then discussing how similar themes come up in your child’s world. Below are some of our favorite “Be Courageous” books:

Froodle , by Antoinette Portis

There’s no better way to summarize this light-hearted book than “Xomox!” An endearing story about a little brown bird who dares to live unencumbered by the constraining norms of avian syntax, readers will giggle endlessly as they fly through the pages. The little brown bird finds the courage to whistle a different birdsong and, despite initial skepticism, soon has the neighborhood’s tweeters trying out some new tunes. Challenge your family to determine who is best able to navigate the hilarious bird words and see for yourself what it means to courageously share your voice.

Jabari Jumps , by Gaia Cornwall

The best children’s books often deliver themes that adults would do well to remember, too. This is one of those books. There is no absolute definition of courage; one’s perspective is essential. Readers will learn exactly that through words and illustrations that portray Jabari’s perspective on taking the plunge off the high dive. From far away, things look easy to Jabari. Up close, however, the challenge looms much larger. Given time to think and supportive words from his father, Jabari embraces the challenge with a big splash. Take a deep breath and jump into this book—you won’t regret it!

Fraidyzoo , by Thyra Heder

The look on Little T’s face at the start of this book will be familiar to worrywarts everywhere. Staring down the prospect of an unwanted visit to the zoo, Little T can’t quite recall why the zoo scares her. To jog her memory, her family engages in a wild dress-up parade of possible animal prompts: “Does it hop with a pocket?” or “Can it give itself showers?” Unable to recollect what scares her so, Little T plucks up the courage to visit the zoo, where discovering the source of her fears leads to an unexpected ending.

Mary Wears What She Wants , by Keith Negley

A celebration of the triumph of courage over convention, this book, inspired by the true story of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, provides numerous examples of groundbreaking words and actions. By today’s standards, a girl’s decision to wear pants may seem hardly worthy of being considered courageous, but it’s that observation that opens the door for families to reflect upon the courage necessary to bring about conditions we may take for granted. As the book observes in its conclusion, thanks to Mary’s actions, things would never be the same again. Who knows what your family might change after learning about Dr. Walker?

Drum Dream Girl , by Margarita Engle

On the island of music, the drum dream girl longs to express the rhythms she experiences in the world, but at every beat, she is reminded that only boys can play drums. Unable to quiet her dreams, the girl pounds away at the musical gender barrier until her father softens and finds her a teacher. When drum dream girl finally plays in an open-air café, her courageous performance resonates with the islanders who change their tune about who is allowed to play drums and what girls (and boys) can dream. Inspired by the life of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a young girl who shattered Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers in the 1930s, this book, with its vibrant illustrations, will truly move you.


Written by Pamela Briskman, Galileo’s Vice President of Education. Pamela has worked in education for more than 25 years and leads the extraordinary team of educators, makers and engineers who create Galileo’s curriculum and the rich design projects you’ll find at camp.