Being a kid is not easy. You have to learn rules to be accepted and to be polite (no hitting, biting, or spitting!) and that’s just in the first three years. Then, there’s getting along with your family and your playmates and finally, going to school to learn a host of new things, all the while growing up.
It’s a big, scary, world to make your way through. That’s why everyone needs a hero. Heroes are people strong and brave, fearless and wise. At first, they are our parents, and then, through the magic of tales and stories, we get to know people we look up to. Heroes are found in epics, stories larger than life, and in romance, narratives of the European languages.
English Medieval heroes such as Robin Hood, St. George, the Dragon Fighter, and Beowulf the Warrior became famous stories retold by generations in print and film.
Scott Allison’s and George Goethals’ WordPress blog about their book, Heroes: What They Do & Why We Need Them helps explain our need for real and fictional heroes.
They write that we’re drawn to heroes- they care for us, teach us good behavior and become role models, save us when we’re in trouble, inspire us, show us courage and loyalty, solve problems, and teach justice. Thanks Scott and George for that.
Metaphor in epics also holds the minds of the audience. The Iliad is the allegory all life is a battle; The Odyssey, all life is a journey, and the Book of Job, all life is a riddle. Great literature teaches everyone that the most important lesson in life is to be your best self, a hero. Here are two stories to read out loud to older children in and out of the classroom.
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Talk about an ordinary kid who didn’t know he was extraordinary. Born to King Uther Pendragon, Arthur is given to a poor man, Sir Ector, and his wife to raise as their own by Merlin of the royal court. What happens next is a series of adventures, battles, and mystical happenings told in the story The Boy’s King Arthur by Sidney Lanier, written in 1917.
And then we have another tale from another land. El Cid (Lord in Muslim) was Spain’s great warrior (El Campeador, the Catholic title) whose name was Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar. His epic was written in 1140. Rodrigo fought the war of Spain against the Moors (Muslims.) A friend of King Alfonso, El Cid ended up fighting for both Catholics and Muslims over many campaigns. Read The Tale of the Warrior Lord translated by Merriam Sherwood and written in 1930.
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Heroes – they come as an unassuming boy growing up in Medieval England who, being helpful to his brother, merely pulls a sword from a stone and a defender of truth on both sides of war for the glory of Spain.
We thank them for their valor, service, and altruism.
For all heroes great and small, salute!