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The Children's Book of Heroes Hardcover – October 6, 1997
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About the Author
William J. Bennett served as Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H. W. Bush and as Secretary of Education and Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Reagan. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Williams College, a doctorate in political philosophy from the University of Texas, and a law degree from Harvard. He is the author of such bestselling books as The Educated Child, The Death of Outrage, The Book of Virtues, and the two-volume series America: The Last Best Hope. Dr. Bennett is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show Bill Bennett's Morning in America. He is also the Washington Fellow of the Claremont Institute and a regular contributor to CNN. He, his wife, Elayne, and their two sons, John and Joseph, live in Maryland.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Our favorite heroes live forever in their stories and in our memories, cheering us forward in our own brave fights.
For you who love heroic things
In summer dream or winter tale,
I tell of warriors, siants, and kings,
In scarlet, sackcloth, glittering mail,
And helmets peaked with iron wings.
They beat down Wrong; they strove for Right.
In ringing fields, on grappled ships,
Singing, they flung into the fight.
They fell with triumph on their lips,
And in their eyes a glorious light.
That light still gleams. From far away
Their brave song greets us like a cheer.
We fight the same great fight as they,
Right againgst Wrong; we, now and here;
They, in their fashion, yesterday.
Text copyright © 1997 by William J. Bennett
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Top Customer Reviews
People might be surprised as to how few religious and political figures are included in this volume given that Bennett is the editor. For the former there are just the Biblical story of "David and Goliath," the story of "Father Flanagan" of Boys Town, and "Mother Teresa" as the epitome of the modern-day heroine. The only political figures, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, appear in episodes well before they each became president with "A Prayer at Valley Forge" and "Honest Abe" respectively. However, one of the better aspects of this book is that some of the stories and poems are not about famous people but rather about a mother ("About Angels"), dads ("Only a Dad"), and even how kids can be heroes by putting themselves on the line for someone they love ("The Hero of Indian Cliffs") and showing moral courage in order to avoiding temptation ("Our Heroes").
Because of my academic interest in mythology I was especially interest in the two classical myths that were selected. The story of Theseus and "The Minotaur" is given as an example of doing the right thing even when afraid of danger while the story of Oedipus and "The Sphinx" is used to remind us that heroes use their brains. This is certainly an interesting pair given what happens to each hero after their defeat these monsters: Theseus and Ariadne never make it back together to Athens and as for Oedipus, well, you probably know what happened to him once he became king of Thebes.
"The Children's Book of Heroes" does indeed present a diverse collection of role models, which at the very least, should expand a child's notion of what constitutes a hero. Each story begins with a brief comment on what the particular life lesson is from that story, for example Jackie Robinson represents "keeping your cool and doing the best you can in a bad situation," which arguably present values that transcend the ideological spectrum.
This book of heros combines mythical and historical figures with everyday folk (moms and dads) whose actions and charactor speak to the better values that should be taught to children. The book is fairly accessible to ages 4 and 5 -- the gist of the story will usually be understood and there are enough new concepts / words to prompt meaningful discussion. The illustrations are rich and invite children into the story by providing an attractive visual introduction to each vignette.
Bennett continues to provide a great service to parents and children with the series of which the Book of Heros is a part.
Overall, I would highly recommend "The Children's Book of Heroes" to all parents & children. It serves as a wonderful reminder of the importance of keeping your word, helping other's, being brave, and much, much more.
There were instances where the audio quality of the presentation tended to be a bit uneven, especially the difference between the volume of the musical breaks and the performers' readings.
Mr. Bennett's introduction, targeting the youngest readers, seemed redundant for older readers. The delivery by the female performers lacked some of the strength and vibrancy of the male performers.
Even though excellently performed by Mr. Scott, "A Prayer at Valley Forge" was by far the weakest of the stories. Strongest among the stories were "Knights of the Silver Shield", "The Minotaur" and "David and Goliath".
Despite some minor problems, the collection offers a good variety of stories that touch on the same moral lesson. Children should find it entertaining and instructional, while adults can enjoy the storytelling skills of fine performers retelling well-remembered tales.