Out of nowhere recently, the term “hero” began to strike me as being terribly dated.

Hero. Hero. Hero? Hero.

Say it enough, and it begins to feel like it hails from another tongue as much as it does from another time.


Does the current generation of children have heroes? If they do, are they heroes of the sort that we would have recognized a generation or two ago? Are there universally recognized heroes, manufactured and upheld by the mass media? Or has our attention fragmented, our willingness to believe in heroes offset (rightfully so) by wariness, our emphasis shifted to celebrity?

Is “role model” a more apt word for the figures we’d like our children to look up to and take an interest in? How about “inspiration”? Or just “interesting person”?

I’ve been asking lots of questions about this lately — not just here, but in conversations with my children and with friends and with just-met acquaintances. It’s on my mind as a parent, and as someone working on various books about people I hope my young readers will find interesting but stop short of worshiping.

I may well be asking more questions here. I’d love to know what you think of the ones I’ve posed so far, and what your own questions are — as parents, readers, writers, librarians, and citizens.

Who are children’s heroes today, if anybody? Who would you like them to be? Who are yours?