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What is a Hero?


Students will learn what the characteristics of a hero are.



  • A Picture Book of George Washington, by David A. Adler, John Wallner, and Alexandra Wallner.
  • A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln, by David A. Adler, John Wallner, and Alexandra Wallner.
  • A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr., by David A. Adler and Robert Casilla
  • Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier
  • My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up With the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., by Christine King Farris
  • A Picture Book of Helen Keller, by David A. Adler, John Wallner, and Alexandra Wallner
  • A Picture Book of Thomas Alva Edison, by David A. Adler, John Wallner, and Alexandra Wallner
  • If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks, by Faith Ringgold
  • The Big Book of American Heroes, by Mike Janulewicz ISBN: 0762403934
  • Have Fun With American Heroes: Activities, Projects, and Fascinating Facts, by David C. King
  • 50 American Heroes Every Kid Should Meet, by Dennis Denenberg and Lorraine Roscoe
  • Superdog: The Heart of a Hero, by Carolyn and Mark Buehner
  • Mommy, You're My Hero, by Michelle Ferguson Cohen ISBN: 0972926429
  • Maxi, The Hero, by Debra Barracca ISBN: 0140554971
  • Frog is a Hero, by Max Velthuijs ISBN: 1840592028
  • Hero Cat, by Eileen Spinelli ISBN: 0761452230
  • The Adventures of Taxi Dog, by Debra and Sal Barracca

Background for Teachers

The teacher needs to have an understanding of the characteristics of a true hero. When choosing books for this lesson make a conscious effort to include people from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Demonstrate a positive learning attitude.

Instructional Procedures

Begin the lesson activity by asking the students if they know what a hero is. List the different traits of what the children on the board.

After brainstorming ideas of what a hero is, read the story Maxi, The Hero. Throughout the story, ask the children if Maxi (the main character in the story) has any of the traits they listed on the board.

Upon finishing the story, talk about the true traits of a hero that were described in the story about Maxi. Assess if the children's idea of what a hero is has changed. Add new ideas (or take some away) from the list previously developed.

Share with the students who your hero is by sharing a picture and/or other artifacts that you have that show the true heroic traits your hero possesses.

Give the students time to look through books with true American hero's (use books from the provided list, or others you are aware of) to learn about the different American hero's.

As a homework assignment, have the students decide who their hero is. They can bring a picture or other artifacts to school to share with their classroom and add to the class "Hero Hall of Fame" (a bulletin board in the classroom or hallway).

Strategies for Diverse Learners

Help student who may not have home support create a display for the "Hero Hall of Fame" at school rather than as a homework assignment.


To use other genres of literature, the teacher can introduce heroes from fairy tales or folklore.

Created: 06/18/2010
Updated: 02/05/2018