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By Tony Bradman, Julia Jarman, Keith Gray, Rosalind Kerven, Kelly McKain and Tony Mitton

This leaflet explores heroic characters chosen by some of today’s prominent authors. The aim is to encourage children to think about their own reading preferences and who they would consider to be their own reading heroes, as promoted by The National Year of Reading. This text could be used with a small group or with the whole class.

These teachers’ notes accompany the PRINT ONLY guided reading leaflet in Literacy Time PLUS Ages 7 to 9, September 2008.

Reading Heroes image

Julia Jarman reveals her ‘Reading Hero’ in our leaflet

Before reading

Discuss the idea of a ‘hero’and the feminine form of the word, heroine. What do the words make the children think of? Can they give examples? Discuss the idea of heroes in books. Who are their favourite story heroes? List their responses or set a homework task to think about how they would introduce their favourite story hero to the class.

Group reading

Read through the leaflet, one author nomination at a time. Gather together a selection of the books the authors mention, so the children can explore these further. Alternatively, spend time between each section of the poster looking at that author’s work and the heroes they have created.

Responding

  • For each section identify the nominated hero and pull out the qualities that hero has. Why does the author like them? Record these qualities on the activity sheet below individually, or together on the whiteboard.
  • Do all these heroes share the same characteristics? How are they similar/different? What makes them heroes? Ask the children to choose their favourite hero from the list and share reasons with the class.
  • Create ‘success criteria’ for a hero, based on the authors’ comments.

Previous learning

Children should have experience of: listening to each other’s views and preferences; reading whole books on their own, choosing and justifying selections; engaging with books and explaining reactions, commenting on important reactions.

Shared writing

  • Using the leaflet as a guide, write a class ‘Reading Heroes’ leaflet. Structure the leaflet in the same way as the text. Ask the children to discuss in pairs who their favourite story hero is, and to develop ideas about the hero’s qualities and why they like them. Ask each pair to feedback to the other children.
  • Choose some good examples to include in the leaflet.
  • Encourage the children to select appropriate vocabulary and phrasing to best describe the hero and the things they do. Include some personal reflections in the first person.

Group and independent activities

  • Ask individuals or groups to write their own section for the collective ‘Reading Heroes’ leaflet/booklet. Use the ‘Reading Heroes’ activity sheet below again to note down and plan ideas, with the children interviewing each other to find out others’ views.

Key learning outcomes:

  • To investigate a range of heroes from a selection of texts and discuss the concept of what makes a hero;
  • To compare and contrast the qualities of different heroes;
  • To identify a favourite hero and provide reasons to support their choice.

National Year of Reading link

Link with monthly theme You Are What You Read – Reading heroes.

  • Create ‘Hero Cards’, including the hero’s name, a picture, their famous deeds and their heroic qualities. Refer to the Real-life Olympic Legends poster in the May issue of Literacy Time PLUS Ages 7 to 9, which was presented in this style.
  • Use the ‘My own story hero’ activity sheet below to develop new heroes. You could either keep the scope broad, as in the leaflet, or confine it to a specific literary genre you are studying – eg, heroes from Greek myths, detective or ghost stories. Follow up this work with some story writing, using the children’s own heroes.
  • Conduct an investigation into favourite story heroes within the year group, key stage, whole school – or wider community, involving parents and other community members. Consider different ways of presenting your findings – eg, logging favourites on a graph, using a tally system, creating a database or creating pictures of favourite heroes and uploading them into a slide show using PowerPoint.
  • Some of the featured authors have their own websites. Use these to extend your investigations into reading heroes.

Plenary

Discuss the children’s work on their own Reading Heroes. Use your ‘hero success criteria’ to evaluate them.

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