The classic children’s book The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper offers many themes to teach young readers, including self-discipline. By encouraging himself with positive affirmations, the Little Blue Engine achieves what seemed impossible, delivering a load of toys over the mountain on time. I would follow the story with the Theodore Roosevelt conversation, first providing a student-friendly definition of self-discipline, and then asking students to reflect on the ways in which the Little Blue Engine adopts Roosevelt’s motto. We would look for ways the engine might’ve been tempted to give up, and how he responded to those temptations.
Level: Elementary English/Language Arts
Subject Area: American literature
Author: Tiffany Heitman