Planting seeds of inspiration: Why children need to read stories about young heroes

Published on: 05 April 2023

Na'ima B Robert's inspiring new book A Child Like You, based on real-life young heroes, shows children that they can have an impact on the world. Here, she shares why that's important... 

A photo of Na'ima B Robert and the front cover of her book A Child Like You

My new book, A Child Like You, is about children noticing what is not right with the world and striving to be the change they want to see.

It is meant to be an inspiring, uplifting read, one that will invite children around the world to believe that they have the power to effect change in their lives and inspire others around them, adults and children alike, to do the same.

One of my favourite experiences while researching this book was discovering just how many young heroes there are to choose from. We only featured some of the most famous examples in the book but there are countless others we couldn't include.

They may not all be on Twitter or have millions of views on TikTok, but they are out there, in communities around the world, making a difference.

And that is important.

Having a true impact

If there is one lesson I would love our children to learn, it is that impact is not measured by how popular one is on social media; true impact is making a tangible difference in the minds and lives of others.

True impact is its own reward. True impact is what our children should be encouraged to strive for, particularly with so much pressure on them to 'be famous' by any means necessary.

By sharing the stories of heroic children - brave, talented, caring children - we can plant seeds of inspiration in young minds. We can show them examples to emulate. We can show them what's possible. This is one of our greatest privileges as children's authors.

An illustration from the front cover of A Child Like You - four children standing on top of a building, one holding a tree, one clutching a book to their chest, one in a swimming costume and one with a bird on their shoulder

Illustration: Nadine Kaadan

Through such stories, we can also teach them about their place in the world, about their rights and responsibilities as global citizens. We can introduce the values we would like them to uphold, the ideas we would like them to consider, and the principles we would like them to live by.

We can introduce them to a greater vision of themselves, of their role on this earth, of the part they can play in the human story, if they choose.

As children's authors, we can tell our young readers the things we want them to know; we can explain things we want them to understand; we can examine things we want them to explore.

How books can make a difference

Essentially, books are one of the best ways in which we can reach children: opening their eyes and hearts to the world beyond their screens.

Our books are our love letters to the next generation.

With that in mind, I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that writing books for children is an act of love, an act of defiance, an act of devotion and an act of rebellion, all at the same time.

Children are worth writing for. They are worth having difficult conversations with. They are worth challenging and intriguing and inspiring. They are, quite simply, the world's future.

Booklists to try

We've put together lists of brilliant books which show children that heroes come in all sorts of different forms - maybe these great reads could inspire them to make a difference too.

All sorts of heroes (younger children)

These books are perfect for showing toddlers and younger children that there are all sorts of everyday heroes in life, including even themselves.

All sorts of heroes (older children)

These books are perfect for showing children that there are all sorts of heroes in life - and will inspire them to make a difference, too.

Topics: Features

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