Literary role models

Who was your role model as a child? Do you still have people you look up to and inspire you? We are almost certain that everyone has role models, and although they might change over the years, we tend to look back at the people (real or fictional) who inspired us. Why do we admire some people so much that we would like to become similar to them? What qualities make them interesting enough? Sometimes these people teach us that our dreams can come true and sometimes they act as moral landmarks, giving us directions and influencing our decisions.

Mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers, athletes, celebrities, authors and other public figures as well as family members have influenced us in our lives. We also admire fictional characters, and often they influence us so much that we may decide to travel to certain places (perhaps to relive their fictional travels), to study certain subjects (to become more like them), or to behave like them (because they represent values we respect).

As I have chatted with students about literary role models (and influential characters in their lives), they mentioned both authors and characters from their literary experience. I tend to believe that without Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables many of us would never have read Tennyson or other Romantic poets. Perhaps you wanted to resemble Jo March from Little Women. We also admire princes, princesses, heroes and heroines, and many boys admire superheroes and other characters with superpowers and intelligence. Let’s see some titles now which offer exciting and inspirational characters whose ideas, manners and actions can influence your students.

Download our Character Analyzer Role Cards to help your students to describe and understand their favourite characters. You can find both cards in the Helbling Readers Book Club Starter Kit.

Characters from classical novels

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Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables
by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Jo March in Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott

Jane Eyre in Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Brontë

Sherlock Holmes in the Sherlock Holmes stories
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Peter Pan in Peter Pan
by J. M. Barrie

Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans
by James Fenimore Cooper

There are several inspirational characters in original stories and young adult novels. Some students even say that authors like Jane Austen inspire them more than her characters. Who do you and your students think of as excellent role models? Share your ideas with us.

One Comment

  1. Who was your role model as a child
    the first answer that comes to mind is — my mother
    but thats flawed (for so many reasons, one of which being the fact that she was in no position to be a role model – let alone a mother, and i say this with compassion and finally not an ounce of anger)
    anyway, i got these books from my 3 aunts
    little women, which to be honest did not make a lasting impression — or a deep one, for that matter
    the new testament narrated for children, which was the most beautiful book i have ever seen
    to this day i have a painting on my mirror — a post card, that is — a post card of a painting of a jesus who was in that superb book illustrated like no other book i have ever seen
    it obviously made a lasting — and deep — impression and i particularly liked the passage in which jesus was 12 and teaching the teachers of the law
    i looked forward to being twelve and having some sort of autonomy and independence like that. i guess you could call that a role model
    the third book was the little prince, which only now rings a bell: little women and the little prince. and jesus in between. well, there you go…