Sunday, October 12, 2003

Hero's Journey for Kids

I hear that the boys in kindergarten are totally obsessed with superheroes. That grown ups gravitate towards superheroes as well is not my easy explanation for the gropinator's rise to governorship. But I do respect our collective human need to worship heroes. Rather, the truth is that we need to be more active participants on our own journey home.

For kids of all ages who might want to consider an alternative to Batman, Superman, and other heros real and faux, I recently discovered two beautifully illustrated books about the hero's journey.

The Lion's Share by Chris Conover (Farrar Staus Giroux) is the story of Prince Leo who lives in a palace filled with material luxuries but empty of literacy. One day, he finds himself afar from home but is rescued by his supposed nemesis of the north, King Otto famous for his "unnamed treasures" lining his castle. King Otto feeds Leo not only food but wisdom, by teaching Leo how to read and to appreciate books, those unnamed treasures. Leo returns home to introduce to his kingdom the treasures of books as well as the gift of friendship.

The Little Wizard by Jody Bergsma (Illumination Arts Publishing Company) tells the more traditional tale of a young boy on a quest. His goal is to obtain magically healing water for his ailing mother. On his journey, he meets a dragon who volunteers to be his guide, serving as his mentor. Along the way, he stumbles across a wizard's cloak, which he wears, uncertain about whether he deserves to be called a wizard. Overcoming each obstacle on his journey leaves him with more confidence in himself. At the end, he concludes with this statement:
    "...To accomplish anything, you must first have a vision and then believe it to be possible. For I have found that for me to be strong I had to trust the power within me.. You must believe in yourself and your purpose, or you will not succeed"...

Kindergarten has been a big deal for us, at least. I'm hoping that the messages of these books are helpful.