Saturday, May 9, 2009

My Hero

We all need heroes. With children nowadays increasingly concerned over issues in our society and the environment such as war, terrorism and pollution, they need heroes more than ever. Heroes make us feel better about our lives. They give us someone to admire, and someone to pattern ourselves after.

Some people worry about kids learning to be violent and aggressive through emulating their heroes. Others say it can blur the divide between fantasy and reality. All I have is my own anecdotal evidence. When we were growing up, we played Robin Hood for years, taking particular delight in shooting anything that moved with our bows and arrows, and conducting extremely noisy sword fights. I remember smuggling tomato sauce out of the house, so we could have "real" blood for a be-heading. As far as I know, all of my old playmates are model citizens. (The jury's still out where I'm concerned.)

Teens often make heroes of sports and entertainment figures, but younger kids will make heroes of their parents, or a book or TV character that's caught their fancy. Kids change their heroes as they mature, but they also see themselves as heroes, especially in day dreams. Youngsters love to dress up as a favourite hero, and act out all sorts of fantasies in their games.

Literature is a great way to bring kids to an awareness of truly heroic lives. Not every hero has a cape and underwear outside his clothes. By studying biographies about Ghandi or Nelson Mandela, kids can come to realize that there are many heroes in every day life who portray such characteristics as courage in the face of adversity, or perseverance, or a desire to right injustices in the world. There are picture books about animal heroes Like Hero Cat by Eileen Spinelli, or Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron. Fiction too, has wonderful heroes - read my recent review of a Sandy Fussell Samurai Kids book to find a story where heroic qualities like self-discipline and putting others first are found in child heroes.

Getting kids to create stories about a hero is a wonderful writing activity. To start them off, try The Hero Factory. Here they can design themselves a hero, choosing physical features, costume, accessories and more. When done, they can print or download their hero in a comic book cover format like mine above. If they need some questions to prompt their story, ask them:
  • What is your hero's name?
  • What special powers does he/she have?
  • Does your hero have any weaknesses?
  • What might be a problem for your hero?
You can offer to interview your child while he adopts the role of his hero. This helps him to discover more fascinating facts that could be woven into something as complex as a narrative, or as simple as a Wanted poster.

Do you like my hero picture? It's not every day a Book Chook gets to make herself over! I tried to choose features that echoed my real-life attributes: young, attractive, slender, fit, orange mohawk ... If you too would like a makeover, if you've always dreamed of having super powers, or if your child would like to create her own superhero, check out The Hero Factory.

Book Chook Alert: Read two great posts on books about heroes at Moms Inspire Learning:


  1. What a great site!! I can't wait to check this out!! Thank you!

    Recent blog post: Literary Locals: April 2009

  2. bookchook10 May, 2009

    What can I say, Tif? It's a hard life being the Book Chook, but someone has to do all this research!

    Recent blog post: My Hero

  3. badgermama13 May, 2009

    I suggest SuperDog as another good picture book about a heroic animal!

  4. bookchook13 May, 2009

    Thanks Badgermama! I love it when people add value to my posts by commenting. I'll be sure to look out for SuperDog, too.

    Recent blog post: The Ruthless Arts of Skimming and Scanning

  5. Dawn@Moms Inspire Learning14 May, 2009

    I do like your hero! What a great post.

    It's so true that we all need heroes, and it just so happens that my last couple of posts have been about biographies of a couple of real heroes, so I linked to your post.

    What fun The Hero Factory is. Thank you for sharing it!

    Recent blog post: Seeking Out the Very Best Picture Books, Part 2

  6. bookchook14 May, 2009

    Thanks, Dawn! I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets pleasure from these fun web things. I've read your hero posts, and enjoyed them very much.

    Recent blog post: The Ruthless Arts of Skimming and Scanning


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