SEL Read Aloud: When Sophie Thinks She Can’t… by Molly Bang

When Sophie Thinks She Can't Book Cover


Sophie is a little girl who loves gardening. One day, when she is struggling to solve a jigsaw puzzle, her older sister walks up and solves it for her, telling her she wasn’t smart enough to solve it herself.

The next day at school, Sophie is still upset and convinced she isn’t smart. Her teacher, Ms. Mulry tells her class that the brain is a muscle they need to exercise and gives them a puzzle to solve: How many different kinds of rectangles can they build with 12 square tiles?

Even though Sophie knows she is good at gardening, she remembers how she couldn’t solve the jigsaw puzzle and doesn’t want to try. Her classmates, Paula and Andrew, encourage her, and Sophie notices them trying different strategies, so she decides to try drawing the squares.

All three struggle with their strategies, until Ms. Mulry introduces the word “yet” to the class and encourages them to keep trying. Sophie, Paula, and Andrew all change their strategies a little bit. Sophie makes a connection to one of her strengths and draws a garden. Eventually, all three make a rectangle, even though Sophie initially doubts because hers is different.

Ms. Mulry draws all the solutions on the board and tells the class that they have made their brains stronger by trying something hard.

When Sophie goes home, she sees her dad struggling to a fix cabinet door. She tells him about the word “yet” and offers to help, until they fix it together.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is something that you’re able to do easily? What is something that you’re not able to do easily?
  2. Can you remember a time when someone did something you, even though you didn’t ask for their help? What about when you helped without asking first?
  3. What would you have Sophie’s sister do differently?
  4. What is something you’re able to do now that you couldn’t do at first?
  5. Helping other people can be tricky. What do you think is the best way to approach someone who is struggling with something?

Read Aloud

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Copyright Notice

The image on this page comes from the book When Sophie Thinks She Can’t… by Molly Bang. Copyright © 2018 by Molly Bang.