Determination: such a weighty word in both length and meaning.

We all want our children to grow up as determined adults with the perseverance and passion to achieve their goals. But how do we impart this critical skill?

At Galileo Camps, being determined 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 powers of determination.


  • I persevere until I achieve my goal.
  • I recognize setbacks as opportunities to learn.
  • I know that innovation and mastery require effort.

At home, one way to focus on the meaning and importance of being determined 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. These are some of our favorite “Be Determined” books.

The Girl and The Bicycle, by Mark Pett

In this touching, wordless picture book, a girl sees a shiny green bicycle in a shop window but doesn’t have enough money in her piggy bank to buy it. After working through the seasons and saving her earnings, she returns to the store only to find that the bicycle has been sold. What happens next reveals the true spirit of giving and the rewards that come with persistence and hard work.

Izzy Gizmo, by Pip Jones

Young Izzy loves to invent, but her gadgets don’t always work as expected. When she tries to help an injured crow by first entertaining him on the ground and then inventing him new wings, she fails… repeatedly. With encouragement from her grandfather and her new feathered friend, Izzy pushes past her frustrations and perseveres until she, and the crow, succeed.

She’s Got This, by Laurie Hernandez

Written by an Olympic gold medalist, this is the inspirational story of Zoe, a girl who wants to fly like the gymnasts she sees on TV…until she falls off the balance beam. With help from her family, Zoe learns that what’s important is not how many times you fall, but that you get up and try again because each fall makes you better and ultimately helps you to fly.

Emmanuel’s Dream, The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, by Laurie Ann Thompson

This extraordinary true story shows how Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who was born in Ghana with one deformed leg, grew up to cycle an incredible 400 miles across his country and spread his powerful message that being disabled does not mean being unable. Emmanuel followed his mother’s lesson, “…don’t give up”, and demonstrates how one person’s unwavering determination can change the world.

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read, by Rita Lorraine Hubbard

In this beautifully illustrated true story, we learn about Mary Walker who was born into slavery in 1848 and freed by the Emancipation Proclamation at 15. Despite enduring over a century of discrimination, at the age of 116, Mary fulfills her lifelong dream of learning to read. Her remarkable story proves that with perseverance and dedication, you’re never too old to learn.


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.