Motivation to learn plays a critical role in students' academic success. This dissertation reports five experiments (N = 250) that increase children's motivation (specifically, challenge seeking and persistence) through storybooks. The first two studies examined how manipulating the similarity between the main character of a story and the participating child affected preschoolers' (Study 1) and kindergarteners' (Study 2) motivation as assessed by the choice of and persistence on challenging puzzles. Study 2 also compared effects for struggling versus non-struggling students. Study 3 examined whether persuasion would increase challenge seeking, when children convince someone else of the value of taking on challenges and persisting. Study 4 examined effects over time, and found that children showed a robust boost in challenge seeking two weeks later, especially those who were reminded of the original book. Study 5 examined whether the effects could be due to a particular aspect of the books, process praise, which sends a message that effort and persistence are effective and valued. Increasing children's motivation at a young age may set the stage for future academic achievement, creating a cycle of positive motivation and academic success.