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BOOK-CLUB PICKS: Executive what?? Executive Function . . . How we get stuff done

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

Does your child struggle with finishing school work on time, handing in completed assignments, planning projects, organizing school materials, remembering details while reading? Students with learning and attention issues often have difficulty with skills in one or more key executive function categories:

  • Organizing

  • Prioritizing

  • Thinking Flexibly (shifting approaches)

  • Accessing Working Memory

  • Self-Monitoring

As academic tasks require students to become increasingly independent, the signs of executive dysfunction may become apparent. Think about your own life; you utilize executive function skills on a daily basis to:

  • Make plans

  • Keep track of time

  • Balance multiple tasks

  • Handle frustrations and make adjustments as needed

  • Ask for help

  • Reflect on your work

  • Etc.

Set your kiddo up for success! Create an environment that supports the development of executive function skills, including the use of calendars, planners, and a timer as well as having conversations about flexible thinking and organization. Also, talk to school personnel or other professionals that work with your child to share strategies and insights. You may need to consult professionals like speech and language therapists or psychologists to address these difficulties. For more information, visit

Time to look at perceived laziness, perceived lack of motivation, and perceived defiance through a new lens! The books below can get the ball rolling. By the way, regardless of the reading levels listed below, these books can help older students as well.


Book Title: What Were You Thinking?: A Story about Learning to Control Your Impulses

Author: Bryan Smith

Book Description: Braden's poor decision-making lands him in trouble more than once. He learns that impulsive reactions don't necessarily make the situation better. He also learns four steps to think before he acts.

Age Range: 8 - 12 years

Grade Level: 3 - 7

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Book Title: My Day Is Ruined!: A Story for Teaching Flexible Thinking

Author: Bryan Smith

Book Description: Braden experiences a series of events that don't go his way, which inevitably result in a trail of overreactions. With the help of his teacher and his family, Braden learns four steps to flexible thinking to help him tackle tough challenges.

Age Range: 4 - 7 years

Grade Level: Preschool - 2

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Book Title: Of Course It's a Big Deal: A Story about Learning to React Calmly and Appropriately

Author: Bryan Smith

Book Description: Braden learns to keep his cool in the face of frustration and disappointment. He leaves emotional meltdowns behind as he implements grandpa's four steps to reacting calmly.

Age Range: 4 - 7 years

Grade Level: Kindergarten - 5

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Book Title: I Can't Find My Whatchamacallit!!

Author: Julia Cook

Book Description: While spotlighting individual differences and strengths, this is the story of creative Cletus, who is so disorganized and messy that he can't find anything in his room. His cousin Bocephus, on the other hand, is hyper-organized and steps in to help his disorganized cousin by giving him some organization tips.

Grade Level: K - 6

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To view booklists sorted based on skills, topics, and more, click here.

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