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How to Be a Hero: Train with the Saints Paperback – March 15, 2017
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"In each chapter, Harrell defines a cardinal, theological, or little virtue, gives a short biography of a saint who exemplified that virtue, and ends with a short prayer and list of questions to elicit further thought about how to apply the virtue to our own lives. The language is plain and frank and the ideas are much more challenging than you normally see in a religion book for kids...
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When Julia asked for reviews of her new book, I knew it was going to be right up my alley. As a Catholic school teacher, I’ve got a shelf of my favorite Saint books for 9-12 year olds, and this one needs to be added to the list.
Julia created a handbook of how to grow in virtue (an important topic for home & classroom) for intermediate age kids. Pairing each of the Cardinal, Theological, and "Little" Virtues with the example of an awesome Saint, she is giving the kids the inspiration to find holy heroes and become like them. She chose some of my favorites, such as St. John Paul II, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, and St. Josephine Bakhita. The Saints also range in era from very early Christianity (St. Monica) to modern day (Bl. Chiara Badano.) There is someone for every kid with Saints representing varying interests, backgrounds, struggles, and triumphs.
The book has several content areas for each Saint, including info about a virtue and how they exemplified it, a short "novelized" biography, discussion/reflection questions, photos, drawings, and a prayer. There is also a section in the back with brief, page long biographies of each Saint.
I would most recommend this book for 4th-6th graders. I especially think that the "Who Is...?" chapters work perfectly for read-alouds, which is how I have been using the book in my classroom. I also have had several students pick up and read selected chunks (note- I love that they can pick and choose the chapters to read- this works so well for this age group) and they have really enjoyed it. Some of their feedback included that they were really interested by some of the stories of Saints that were new to them, they liked the details packed into the short chapters, and liked the "look" of the book with all of the illustrations.
"You can be holy. There are as many ways to be holy as there are people. The saints come from every country, every time period, every age, every walk of life, and every type of family. Though there is enormous diversity in their circumstances, every saint lives a virtuous life: a life powered by God himself."
I'm grateful to be able to add this to my classroom library for continued lessons in virtue and devotion to the Saints, and I think it would make a great addition to your home or classroom, especially as a read-aloud and a resource for great virtue related discussion starters.