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Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: A Growth Mindset Book for Kids to Stretch and Shape Their Brains

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Learn how much your brain can grow! The perfect introduction to growth mindset, Your Fantastic Elastic Stretch It, Shape It Did you know you can stretch and grow your own brain? Or that making mistakes is one of the best ways your brain learns? Awarded as one of the best growth mindset books for kids, Your Fantastic Elastic Stretch It, Shape It teaches all the ways that the brain can develop with exercise, just like the rest of our bodies. Educator and psychologist Dr. JoAnn Deak offers a fun and engaging introduction to the anatomy and functions of the brain that will empower each young reader to S-T-R-E-T-C-H and grow their fantastic, elastic brain! Looking for award-winning picture books for curious kids? Your Fantastic Elastic Brain is the perfect fit. Dr. Deak shares information in ways that are accessible for parents, teachers, and children alike. Delightful illustrations with accurate details foster motivation to learn and grow in new ways. This book is an excellent companion to Beautiful Oops , The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes , I Can't Do That YET , The Most Magnificent Thing , and Bubble Gum Brain . Awards for Your Fantastic Elastic Brain : Praise for Your Fantastic Elastic Brain : "Dr. Deak has done a masterful job of creating a book for children, parents, and teachers to learn about the human brain together. The information is accessible and understandable, with illustrations that are engaging, fun, and alive! This is great reading material for everyone and will elicit many expressions of 'Now I get it!' from the adults!"―Fretta Reitzes, Director, Goldman Center, 92nd Street Y " Your Fantastic Elastic Brain is a wonderful, engaging book for parents and teachers to read with young children. It presents accurate information about the brain and how it relates to our lives…fostering motivation to learn and grow, consistent with our programs and research led by Carol Dweck, PhD."―Eduardo Briceño, Co-Founder & CEO, Mindset Works "Dr. Deak writes in a clear and interesting way about the complexity of the human brain, enhancing the knowledge of teachers and students. This book is a real contribution to the field of education in the twenty-first century."―Joyce S. Pickering, Hum.D., Executive Director Emerita, Shelton School & Evaluation Center

32 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2010

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JoAnn Deak

11 books15 followers

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5 stars
477 (51%)
4 stars
319 (34%)
3 stars
101 (10%)
2 stars
16 (1%)
1 star
9 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 162 reviews
Profile Image for Prabhjot Kaur.
1,046 reviews148 followers
April 21, 2021
Your fantastic elastic brain explains all the things that our brain does. From helping to think, to learn, to retain information to dream and everything else in between. In merely a few pages, there is a lot of information with pictures which makes for a fun read. A must read for all the young readers. We need more learning books like this.

5 stars
3 reviews
April 16, 2019
The 32 page non-fiction children’s book, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, was written by JoAnn Deak and illustrated by Sarah Ackerley and published in October 2013 Scholastic Inc. Your brain helps you do many things like think, remember, and name things you see and what you hear. Your brain helps you do all the things that make you, you! This book helps student with their growth mindset and realizing that you are allowed to make mistakes and those mistakes help your brain. It shows the many different ways in which your brain helps you to not only do school work, but also play the piano, swim, or play a sport. The book goes into depth telling the different parts of the brain and what their function is such as; the cerebellum, cerebrum, hippocampus, neurons, and much more. The book encourages students to continue to learn, think, and do things they love in order to keep training and growing your brain.

Grade level: 1st – 5th
Lexile Level: 700L
Guided Reading Level: P

NYS ELA CCS: W.2.8 Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
SL.2.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

Teaching Idea: Based on the third page of the book, student will create their own template copying that page which focuses on “Your brain does all the things that make you, you!” Students will draw a picture of themselves in the middle of a piece of paper. Around their drawing there will be six sentence starters relating to their personal experiences. They will read: I like, I know, My favorite word is, I am good at, I am good at, and I enjoy. Students will complete each sentence starter about themselves. They may use pictures if needed. Students will share out one thing about themselves to the class when completed.
21 reviews
December 5, 2019
Summary: This book explains the parts of the brain and how these parts work together to function in children friendly way. The book explains how the brain helps use to see, learn, remember, hear, and feel. The book explains how mistakes help us learn and includes little characters that add humor to the content of the book.

Review: I would recommend this book to 2nd grade and up because some of the book contains a lot of information about the power of our brain. The illustrations in the book pair nicely with the illustrations and the characters add humor throughout the book. This book is also a great way to introduce the idea that it’s okay to make mistakes and that our brain learns from those mistakes.

A book that would connect to this book would be "Beautiful Oops" by Barney Saltzberg because it reinforces that it's okay to make mistakes and that it doesn't ruin anything.

A quote that I really enjoyed from the book was “Even when you make a mistake while you’re learning something new… you are still training your brain.”
Profile Image for Erin Buhr.
Author 5 books34 followers
February 27, 2016
This is a completely fascinating non-fiction book about the brain for young children. My preschoolers have wanted this one on repeat for days now while they soak in all of the information and I have no doubt it would appeal equally to early elementary schoolers. The book describes the brain and its parts from the amygdala to the cerebellum in applicable, accessible ways for young kids. By describing the brain through your emotions, experiences playing soccer or the piano and wonderful illustrations this book eloquently introduces children to their most impressive organ.
Profile Image for Reba Walton.
20 reviews
November 28, 2017
This is an amazing book that teaches children about their brain. I am working with my students on learning about growth mindset. This book backs me up when I tell my students that their brain grows the more they use it and that they can learn and improve from their mistakes.
Profile Image for Helen.
Author 11 books11 followers
March 10, 2011
This book’s full name is Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It. It’s written by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D., and illustrated by Sarah Ackerley.

First off, the illustrations are wonderful. Children of all color are included, as are a little mouse and owl who help guide us along on the journey into the brain. The colors and illustrations are gorgeous, including the ones of the brain. And for parents who read the book to their kids, the big words are sounded out, for example: Cerebellum (SAIR-uh-bel-uhm) - great for those of us who may have forgotten.

Second off (is there such a thing as “second off”?), the writer knows the subject. Jo Ann Deak, Ph.D., is an educator and preventive psychologist. She takes the reader through important information about the brain: Is it an organ or a muscle? What are the different parts of the brain? What does each part do? How can you improve your brain? Is there a point at which you can no longer improve your brain?

Speaking for myself (certainly not any of you whom I’m sure remember all of your science and biology classes), this is a book for adults, as well as kids.

To top off the great points about Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, this book was printed on TerraSkin®, “a revolutionary new paper made from stone, infinitely recyclable and degradable, it requires no water, no bleach, and uses 50% less energy and 20-30%less ink than traditional paper…” Not only can you teach your child, grandchild, nephew or niece, about the brain, you can teach them about taking care of the environment.
42 reviews
May 16, 2017
My son just turned 5 and it's just a bit too old for him, but I read it to him anyway because I want him to internalize the message of the book because of Carol Dweck's research on growth mindsets. He requested that I read it to him tonight, which is my metric of child book approval. If he asks me to read it to him, I assume that he likes it.

I already knew what the book was about from YouTube, but this book managed to exceed my expectations because it also teaches kids to have a growth mindset about emotions and courage as well. For as long as I can remember I've been teaching my son that healthy reactions to anger, stress, or fear are a result of practice, that the more that he practices how to calm himself (in the case of anger or stress) or face anything that requires bravery, the better he'll be at those skills. In the book, it specifically talks about how doing something brave teaches the amygdala how to react with less fear the next time a similar situation comes up.

I intend to keep this one prominently displayed so that my son will see it often and hopefully ask me to read it to him over and over again.
Profile Image for Melissa Ganka-Collins.
299 reviews1 follower
July 23, 2019
I liked the mix of brain facts and science explaining how they affect feelings and growth. My son found this kind of info very useful from his therapist when he was getting help for his anxiety to understand what was happening in his brain, however I am not sure what to do with this book. As a K-6 librarian I want to use it and recommend it, but it was very wordy and will not make a good read-aloud. The sentences are redundant. Too hard for young readers but not sophisticated enough for older readers. I don't see my non-fiction science lovers choosing this to learn about the brain either; they want pictures. I picked this up to use in my growth mindset curriculum this year but I am not sure how or if I will use it.
Profile Image for Terry.
3,789 reviews51 followers
September 25, 2018
"This is awesome, Mom." We thought she was just looking at the book, but when we sat down to read it together, she could tell us information from the pages before we had a chance to read them. Our daughter also loved the sidebar comments from the mice.

There are lots of big concepts but Dr. Deak has brought them into focus for young kids. They can easily grasp the idea of having to stretch and that when something is hard it means you need to spend a little extra focus on it. Read more at the Reading Tub.
Profile Image for Cortney Perkins.
87 reviews2 followers
September 23, 2015
This book provides information to students about the brain, something students use everyday but may not fully know what the brain does and how much work the brain does. It has great pictures and I love the idea of bringing a rubber band or something elastic to give students an idea of how the brain feels. I could even ask them if they have stretchy elastic in their pants or shorts so that they can visually see how elastic the brain is. It is a great read for all ages because it provides knowledge and real facts about the brain. Some vocabulary words will need to be reviewed before sharing the book with students, such as, "cerebellum", "neurons, "cerebrum" and so on.
Profile Image for Rebecca Collins.
40 reviews1 follower
September 24, 2016
I was recently introduced to this book after it was brought to my attention during a staff meeting about growth mindset. I'm an NQT who is working in a school where growth mindset is a big thing at the moment, and having a Year 3 class it is quite difficult talk to them about it without getting too technical. Although this book does include some scientific vocabulary, it is clear and colourful and communicates the message that your brain is an amazing thing and that you should learn from mistakes and challenges. I am definitely going to make sure that this is read to children of all ages, but also that it has a place within my classroom for however long I may teach.
Profile Image for Karen.
Author 9 books27 followers
November 11, 2014
It is hard to imagine a Kindergarten kid getting excited about a picture book about brains, but my son was very excited about this book. He was so excited about this book that he picked it out when he earned a free book for reading 100 books in just over a month. (Yeah, my kid uses his brain.) :)

I didn't read all of the denser writing when I read the book to him tonight, but the lighter text and the illustrations were so engaging that I think my son chose well.

32 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2016
This was a good introduction for the girls to what the brain does. I like its emphasis on the elasticity of the brain (though it's possibly over-done...but maybe it's worth repeating so many times) and the fact that trying new things and making mistakes is how you strengthen your brains processes. My crew needs to hear that...often. Not too detailed (short enough for a 2-year-old to survive) and plenty colorful, and easy to understand. But definitely just an introduction.
178 reviews
September 21, 2020
Great book, lots of knowledge and use of scientific words was well done. Really good pictures too. Think this would be a good one for kids. Read in fall 2020
Profile Image for Baby Bookworm.
1,641 reviews91 followers
January 10, 2018

This review was originally written for The Baby Bookworm. Visit us for new picture books reviews daily!

Hello, friends! Our book today is Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, written by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D. and illustrated by Sarah Ackerley, an introduction to the functions of the brain and the importance of exercising it.

Your brain: you know you have it, you probably know where it is, but do you know what it’s for? Did you know what it can do? Why, right there between your ears is the most amazing organ in your body! It controls your memories, your coordination, your speech, your emotions – practically everything that makes you, YOU! So it’s important to know how to exercise your brain as well, giving it a chance to stretch and grow so that it can continue to do so all your life.

This was a pretty neat book with a lot of great information. Readers are given a crash course on the brain and how it works, including the different parts of the brain (amygdala, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, etc) and what they each control (emotions, memory, decision making, etc), and manages to do so in a way that makes the information appealing and relatable to young children. The second half then encourages kids to practice new skills, learn new information, and generally challenge themselves – this, among other things, helps their brains to develop and grow. It’s a great message from both a scientific and social standpoint, and worth promoting. The illustrations are colorful, fun, and interesting; we especially liked the little mouse and owl who provided humorous asides. Some of the analogies were a little overlong and dry, but the length was fine for a single sitting, and JJ enjoyed the illustrations very much. Best for kindergarten and up, but still very much Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Be sure to check out The Baby Bookworm for more reviews!
10 reviews
April 5, 2020
This book is great for students in grades 3-6 in the informational genre.

It is all about the brain and its ability to expand as you learn more things. It teaches about specific parts of the brain and how they impact you every single day. It is full of examples of how to take advantage of the brains ability to expand and remember things, as well as fun, vibrant pictures that all kids will enjoy. Not only does it teach about the brain, but it teaches students not to give up when learning new things in and out of school!

I would use this book as a read aloud for students and I would pass it around their book bins or leave it out for them to choose to read independently. I think it would be great to use at the beginning of the year to give students one reason why they are in school and learning about so many different things. It talks about how the brain grows the most during the first 10 years of life and how it is important to keep learning and trying even when it is hard. This is an important thing for students to hear at the beginning of the year because they need to learn not to give up even when learning new material is challenging. I would also use it in the upper grades to teach students about the brain and its many functions and abilities. Students would find this interesting in science class as one part to learning about the functions of the body systems.
The title of the book includes the word "elastic," but the author never explicitly states what that means; after reading, it would be great for students to use what they learned from the book to determine what it means for our brains to be elastic.

This is a WOW book for me because it was so interesting the way it described all of the complex functions of the brain in a simple picture book. Jus like we inform students why they are learning about a specific topic, I think it is so important for students to learn why they are in school in general. Taking it in a "growing your brain" perspective, might encourage certain students to want to learn.
51 reviews1 follower
April 22, 2020
I gave this book 5 stars because it was different from other informational books that I have read. This one was more of a story, and the illustrations were cartoon like and super cute. The book all around was aesthetically pleasing.

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It is an informational book about a brain. It closes in on how important it is to work out your brain during the first ten years of your life. Just how you can exercise your body, you can train your brain but with different exercises. It talks about how even when you make mistakes, this especially helps your brain and that you shouldn't be deterred when you mess up but try again. While teaching about brain, it teaches an important lesson to kids to not be deterred. The book gives a lot of scientific terms for the brain, but not too much to overwhelm or go right over a child's head. I really enjoyed this book and the way that the information was presented in a well organized manner where you knew exactly where to look next.
Profile Image for George Crowder.
Author 2 books28 followers
July 26, 2019
This book reiterates a half truth I've heard frequently espoused by well-intentioned teachers: that making mistakes is beneficial to brain development. In and of itself, making a mistake makes it more likely you will continue to make the same mistake because of the brain's functioning. Doing something wrong creates a neural network that will replicate the mistaken action.

Making a mistake is only beneficial if the mistake is recognized; the faulty thinking or actions which created the mistake are analyzed and understood; and corrective behavior is made repeatedly to overwrite the mistaken brain network.

Understanding this fully is essential for educators to be able to cultivate a willingness on the part of students to approach new concepts and skills fearlessly, and at the same time help their students correct the mistakes that inevitably arise in the process.
Profile Image for Tanya.
1,629 reviews
October 4, 2020
Three stars from me because that rating means, “it was okay.” I wanted to really like or love this book. But the parts that stand out to me most after putting it away and just thinking about it before writing a review are those that involved the mouse and the owl. They interjected a little bit of humor, but overall, I felt like the book couldn’t figure out its target audience and threw a lot out there, hoping something would stick in the reader’s mind . The variety of illustrations of kids in action was also just too much. I feel like less action might have actually been more memorable. The one page I didn’t like was the soccer page - just not into encouraging heading and I wish there would have been an inclusion of at least a one liner talking about how important it is to protect the brain.
Profile Image for Steve Holden.
477 reviews8 followers
August 25, 2017
A big focus in my building and classroom this year is growth mindset. It's a great philosophy to teach and promote to kids, and I love that we're learning and applying it as a staff. This is a great book within the approach, as well as a lot of science about the brain itself. My class enjoyed this, however, and it made for a great discussion. As a read aloud, this is a challenge - both with vocabulary and text features - but I managed alright it seems.

I'll continue to add books and read alouds that fit within our growth mindset approach as I finish out my year long journey here in picture books! This one will be a repeat in the years ahead.
24 reviews3 followers
December 17, 2017
Great intro to neuroplasticity. I have only two criticisms. Here was a missed opportunity to tell kids they can "sculpt" the amygdala too. They can have some control over their feelings. Skipping this might leave behind the ones that need it most.

The sculpting metaphor needed a little development: the young brain is like a forest with very few trails. How you use your brain, or let it use you, and even the thoughts you think, make "new trails through the forest". The more you use a trail, the easier it is to use again.

Focusing on the positive is a habit that we might choose to cultivate. And this sculpts our brain as much as practicing piano, or soccer.

Great book!
Profile Image for Ann Maass.
27 reviews1 follower
April 27, 2020
Twin Text: I’m a Duck by Eve Bunting
Content Area: Guidance/Counseling
Interactive Strategy: KWL chart
Ask: What are some things that you are scared to try?
Read I’m a Duck and fill out the K part of the chart for what they know about trying new things.
For the W part of the chart, ask students what they would like to know about how the brain affects the way we approach new experiences.
Read Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It and compare the information to how the little duckling’s actions in I’m a Duck.
After reading the nonfiction text, complete the L part of the chart.
As a class, create a summary of the information learned.
Profile Image for Woodrós .
513 reviews8 followers
July 8, 2022
My expectations were too high ~ it's really good, has some good brain science introduction for kids and would be a good way to reinforce the importance of errors in learning and activate a growth mindset.

I was just slightly annoyed at the "first 10 years" focus as someone who works with middle schoolers and just learned the super powerful brain development opportunities that are in those adolescent years, akin to those of the first 5!!, and this that comment made me wonder if some of this was out of date.

All in all, great and useful just not the perfection I'd set it up to be in my head!n
10 reviews
April 15, 2018
Genre: Informational

Help children learn about their brain including the structure and what each area does for YOU. This informational book educates children on the brain but also stands as a motivational book. Readers are encouraged by the idea of stretching their brain to grow the muscle to become better. They learn how making mistakes is a necessary part of growth for every human. A unique feature of this book is the informational illustrations that offer more information to the text, outside of the story line.
75 reviews1 follower
December 1, 2018
Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It by JoAnn Deak
Nonfiction: Informational, Grades 2-4
This factual book on the human brain is awesome for students in elementary school. I liked how there were facts in the main text, and then facts that pertained to the text off to the side on some pages. The pictures also helped me grasp the full understanding of the text, and I think that they are very kid friendly. This would be a great read during a science lesson in elementary school, or even a psychology lesson.
25 reviews
December 11, 2018
For first through fifth grade.
The book explains the anatomy and impact of the brain on the body especially for children ages birth through fifth grade.
The book has illustrations that engage the reader as well as side notes that can be entertaining. It breaks down a complex topic to simple terms so students can better understand it.
I'd use the book to do a lesson on the brain but also to spark students to be able to ask questions and possibly plan a science lesson around how the brain works.
Profile Image for Tam Newell.
645 reviews2 followers
March 19, 2018
Dry picture book about the brain and its development. Using to introduce Growth Mindset.
Profile Image for Arline.
183 reviews3 followers
February 26, 2020
Excuse the pun but this book blew our family’s minds. We learned a ton and enjoyed went page!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 162 reviews

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