Celebrating Heroes: Exploring Literature to Learn about Heroes
Children hear about heroes in games, TV shows and movies, but do they really know what they are? Summer vacation is a great time for families to explore literature in order to learn about heroes and identify who they are and what makes them heroic together.
We’ve put together a short list of books that have main characters who are all heroes of different kinds. Consider checking these books out from your local library or right from your Kumon Center if they are on Kumon’s Recommended Reading List to read and learn from at home. We’ve provided some ‘discussion starters’ to get the learning underway.
For younger children, “Fireman Small” by Wong Herbert Yee, which can be found on Kumon’s Recommended Reading List, provides a great example of an everyday hero young readers will recognize. As Fireman Small tries to get to sleep, catastrophes continue to occur and call him out of bed to save the day. Discussion Starter: Talk about firemen in your community and how their job makes them a hero. Ask your children if they can think of other local heroes.
An American Hero for All Ages
Biographies of great men and woman who have contributed to the world at large are appropriate for readers of all ages. The story “Young Amelia Earhart: A Dream to Fly” by Sarah Alcott, details how Amelia Earhart had the dream to fly and made that dream a reality, becoming one of the most famous pilots in the world. Amelia is an example of “the American spirit” and the value of freedom. Discussion Starter: It took incredible dedication for Amelia to learn everything she could about airplanes and become a pilot. What other qualities did she have that made her a hero and the most admired woman pilot in the world? List other examples of American citizens who contributed to their country by pursuing excellence and are considered role models or heroes to those around them.
A story for older readers, also found on Kumon’s Recommended Reading List, is “The Story of My Life” by Helen Keller. This is the inspirational story of a remarkable woman, Helen Keller. Born in 1880, she becomes blind and deaf at 19 months by a mysterious illness. Not only does she overcome her disabilities, learning to read, write and speak, but she also graduates from college with honors. Discussion Starter: Helen Keller is the role model we all need when we feel discouraged. What challenges do children face throughout their career as a student? How can they look to Helen Keller as an example that they can succeed?
Choose a few fables, folktales and other appropriate stories to read aloud. Ask one child to name the hero in each, explain why he or she chose that character, and then allow the other children to ask him/her questions to determine whether or not the characters are truly heroes.
These are just a few examples of the countless pieces of literature that tell the story of heroes and how they can trigger the opportunity to learn as a family. Visit your local library, or check out a book from your Kumon Center, and keep celebrating heroes at home!