The Librarian of Basra
By Jeanette Winter
As a middle grades educator in Washington, D.C., I found that when I asked students to discuss their heroes or role models, they responded with anecdotes about their favorite athlete or entertainer, with the occasional iconic freedom fighter figure thrown into the mix. They obviously believed that heroes should be people with whom we interact only from a distance—in our imaginations or in history books. This notion compelled me to think about what message we send our students about what it means to be a hero or role model and, moreover, who can be a hero or role model. I decided to develop a unit for our after-school program on everyday heroes, heroes who are accessible members of our community, who we can actually engage with on a daily basis. I wanted to drive home the fact that ordinary people can do extraordinary things and have a profound impact on the lives of others.