As well as being inspired by the examples set by those around them and by what they see on television, developing young minds are often shaped by the characters they read about in books. Reading is a fantastic way to satisfy the thirst for knowledge that all active youngsters enjoy, and teaching them valuable lessons about life and the value of courage is an ideal way to encourage their taste for literature. Here are eight memorable characters from children’s literature – aimed at varying age groups – which can help your little ones be inspired to be brave in their own lives.
Madeline, from Madeline – Ludwig Bemelmans (3-8 years)
This classic story of a young French girl living in a Catholic boarding in school in Paris along with eleven other girls is as entertaining as it is timeless. Madeline, the smallest of the girls and the only redhead amongst them, is also the most brave and outgoing and is sure to delight and inspire all of her readers. The books are almost entirely written in rhyme as well, making them a perfect choice for younger children, and have been adapted into a 1998 film starring Frances McDormand.
Albert, from Wallace’s Lists – Barbara Bottner (4-8 years)
The brave character here is not the title one – who is forever making lists in the fear that he will forget to do something – but his new neighbour Albert, who encourages him to embrace spontaneity and be courageous in his decision-making. The pair’s friendship leads to all sorts of adventures and this book is a great way to encourage children to try out new things.
Pippi, from Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren (5-8 years)
This marvellous creation from Swedish author Astrid Lindgren has been transformed onto the silver screen time and time again – although probably the 1969 original remains the most memorable. Pippi is a precocious youngster whose mother died when she was very young and whose father is lost at sea. She deals with these hardships with enviable optimism and fills her days with playful pranks and unpredictable hijinks. Her tenacity in the face of adversity, as well as her enduring good nature, is a great example to young kids.
Ruby, from Ruby and the Booker Boys – Derrick Barnes (7-10 years)
Eight-year-old Ruby is just starting life at her new school, where her three older brothers have already made a name for themselves through academia, dedication and personality. Ruby, headstrong and spunky, wants to go her own way. A great inspiration for young girls.
Gavin, from Light on Dumyat – Rennie McOwan (7-12 years)
This adventure story set amongst the Highlands of Scotland features Gavin as a young outdoors enthusiast who uncovers a plot by robbers to steal his uncle’s fortune. Not only does this book encourage bravery and justice, but the characters are also very active and it’s guaranteed to inspire a lust for the great outdoors in all youngsters who read it.
Brian, from The Hatchet – Gary Paulsen (11-14 years)
Brian Robeson is en-route to visit his father in Canada for the first time after his parents’ separation, when suddenly the airplane pilot suffers a fatal heart attack and Brian – the sole passenger – crashes in the middle of the forest. He must use only the hatchet given to him as a present by his mother, along with his own resilience and bravery, to survive.
Harry (and friends), from Harry Potter – J K Rowling (8 years – adult)
This valiant young wizard needs no introduction and his courage in the face of adversity is a shining example to children (and adults!) of all ages, as well as being a thoroughly entertaining read. If the seven books and eight films don’t satisfy your child’s hunger for Potter-mania, you can also bring the characters to life by visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Harry’s ultimate sacrifice, made in order to bring peace to his friends and their world, is sure to bring tears to your eyes no matter how many times you read these stories.
Lyra, from Northern Lights – Philip Pullman (12 years – adult)
The first in Philip Pullman’s highly successful His Dark Materials trilogy, Northern Lights features Lyra Belacqua on her search to find her lost friend and imprisoned uncle, through a world that is at once both strangely familiar and completely alien. Lyra’s courage and determination even in the face of grave danger is a great inspiration to all who read about her exploits. In the second of the trilogy, a male protagonist (Will Parry) with similar fortitude and bravery is introduced as well, providing a role model to boys as well as girls.
This is a guest post