Heroes come in all sizes, shapes, colours, genders and ages! Many popular stories develop their themes around the hero! In our culture, we celebrate the heroes in our everyday lives. We hear about the incredible acts of heroes everyday on the news, TV, and social media. Introducing A Heroes’ Journey, as the theme and focus of your child’s next book selection will provide motivation for the young reader. Heroes exist in non-fiction and fiction literature through fairy tales, fables, historical fiction, biographies and autobiographies. These very different genres provide a rich pathway into the development of a character in terms of their growth as a hero, through identifying their qualities, level of sacrifice, show of bravery, choices made, and connection to human relationships. The finale of reading and analyzing the hero book or hero comic book of your child’s choice is to allow your child to identify the hero within and the people in their own nuclear family. Have them choose a product to exhibit their understanding of the archetypal study of a hero by drawing a poster, painting a picture, or writing a letter to their hero, or lyrics to a song about heroes. 

High interest books are a great place to start! Here are some good examples for young readers of all ages:

Book Recommendations

Primary – Gr. 1&2   

 Ordinary People Change The World Series by Brad Meltzer

“We can all be heroes”. That’s the inspiring message of this lively biography series from New York Times best-selling author Brad Meltzer.

Comprehension/Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the heroes’ name?
  2. What is a hero?
  3. What did they do to become a hero?
  4. What characteristics does this hero possess?
  5. What characteristics do you possess that make you a hero?

Gr. 3-5

My Dog is a Hero by Anita Ganeri 

True stories about man’s best friends! In this book, you’ll learn about the awesome dogs that are trained to save lives and brave the most dangerous of situations. In this book, the reader will find out how these furry pets are trained for their special mission, and how they got their jobs. The reader will also learn the history of help dogs and meet the most famous canines.  Readers will learn easy to understand facts about how the dogs got their start.

Comprehension/Discussion Questions:

1. What type of dogs make good working dogs?
2. What are some of the jobs they learn to do?
3. Who trains the dogs?
4. How long does it take for dogs to learn their job?
5. What are some famous rescue dogs?
6. How are everyday pets our heroes?

Gr. 6-8

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up on a bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently, she’s his girlfriend Piper, his best friend’s name is Leo and they are all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for “bad kids”. What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea-except that everything seems very wrong.

Comprehension/Discussion Questions:

1. Who is the main character?
2. What personality characteristics does the main character exhibit?
3. What happens to the main character?
4. How does the main character relate to others in the story?
5. What separates this character from others?
6. What makes this character an example of a hero?
7. Do others recognize the main character as a hero?
8. How do you relate to the main character- do you posses some of the same traits?
9. What are some of the main character’s strengths and weaknesses?
10. Does the main character grow or stay the same? Explain.

Comprehension Tool

When working with your child, it may benefit you to use the following chart as you read the book: 

Use this “Hero’s Traits Reader’s Log”. As you read the text, keep a list of the hero’s traits and discuss.

Works Cited

Ganeri, A. (2012). My dog is a hero. London, UK: Marshall Editions.
Website: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/books/my-dog-is-a-hero-by-anita-ganeri/

Meltzer, B., & Eliopoulos, C. (2015). I am Amelia Earhart. New York, NY: Scholastic.
Website:https://www.audible.com/pd/I-Am-Amelia-Earhart-Audiobook/198488364X?source_code=GPAGBSH0508140001&ipRedirectOverride=true&gclid=CjwKCAjw7O_pBRA3EiwA_lmtflVrBltd805hakxOwNjMq-MJIgFD1iGDjK8yD4hV7evBbaB1auCJIRoC3cAQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

Riordan, R. (2012). The Heroes of Olympus bk. 1: The lost hero. New York: Disney/Hyperion Books.
Website: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7736182-the-lost-hero

Walter, J. Heroes Are Made of This: Studying The Character of Heroes. ReadWriteThink. http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/heroes-made-this-studying-784.html

About Karla Thomas Jackson

Karla is currently an English Language teacher having worked in the Baltimore Public County School system for 27 years. In the past, she attended Penn State University, where she earned a Bachelor's degree in English. In addition, she went on to earn a MAT (Master's in Teaching) in English and a MA in English from Binghamton University. In 1991, she began teaching for the Baltimore County School system, also adding an ESOL/ELL certification under Maryland State Education in 2015 and is also currently a tutor for students from China.

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