Apply reading strategies to meet the needs of all students

The main library of MY HERO stories is organized by categories. Here you will find curated stories submitted by people of all ages from around the world, as well as stories by professionals and staff members.

In addition, the stories library has curated Selected Stories in Multiple Languages and Stories Read Aloud, as well as helpful tutorials on creating and submitting your own hero story.


Pre-reading skills set the framework for students to understand story content.

Choose a hero story that will be assigned or read aloud, preferably one with a slightly failiar hero.      Discuss as a class what already is known about the hero.

Have students create the traditional 3 column K-W-L chart, and fill in what they know about the hero from the discussion.  Next students exercise their curiosity by listing what they Want (W) to know about the hero. The L (learn) column is left for the end.Present students with key words and concepts they will encounter in the story. If vocabulary will be drawn from the reading, present it beforehand and have accessible.

Scanning for visual format clues: Either project the chosen story for the class, or have students access it individually. The purpose of scanning is to learn about the story from the visual design and formatting. Ask basic questions like the following:

A. Every story has a category at the top. What does the hero category make us think about in relation to this person? Can we relate anything we already know about the character to the category? Why do we think the character is in this category?

B. Look at the pictures. Many stories have a picture of the hero. What can you learn about a person by looking at their picture? What kind of mood is set by any of the pictures? If there are multiple pictures of the hero, what similarities and differences do we see? If there are pictures of other things, how do we think these will fit in with the story?

C. What is noticed about the length of the story and how much detail does it look like we’re going to get?

D. Links in the text are a different color and underlined. Are there any in the story? If so, how could these links (frequently key words) relate to the story or information?

E. At the bottom of the story look at the “Related Links.” How do these links give us ideas about what the story is about? What main ideas and resources are represented in the additional links section? If there are other websites dedicated to this person, what does that say about them?

F. Quickly have the students finish scrolling down the page, looking briefly at the other heroes in this category. Does the student know any? If so, what kind of people are they, and how does this further the idea of what this hero category is all about?

Scan for verbal content. Have students return to the top of the page. Give them an appropriate amount of time to read the first sentence of each paragraph only. They may skim the other sentences, but they need to keep within the time frame.

Discuss what students have learned about the hero from the first sentence of every paragraph and what they might expect to learn from reading the whole story.

Pre-reading has given the students a purpose for reading the hero story and a sense of how it is structured. Possible connections with previous knowledge have been explored.

Active Reading

Active note taking helps students focus on finding information and answers.

Note taking can take the form of outlines, Cornell notes, mind maps or other forms of information organization. This is a good opportunity to present these systems and develop their uses.

If the teacher is going to read the story, Cloze reading is an effective tool to ensure students are “reading aloud silently in their heads.” In this technique, frequently discussed by Kate Kinsella, the teacher leaves out a word in the middle of a sentence. Students are trained to supply the missing word in chorus, showing that they are actively involved.

The teacher’s policy in following links should be explained in advance of reading. It is suggested that the students read the whole story before following any links.


If the Anticipation Guide or KWL forms were used in pre-reading, the student now should fill in the L (learn) column. Class discussion focuses on correcting any misinformation and analyzing how opinions and feelings may have changed with the new information.

Reading a MY HERO story is a great way to begin the process of exploring what a hero is in our society.

Use of different MY HERO stories offers excellent material for compare/contrast activities, which can be aimed at refining a definition of what makes a hero, or what qualities heroes have in common.

Understanding what makes other people heroes can help the student define who could be considered a hero in his/her own life. Signing the Guestbook or writing and submitting a hero story to MY HERO can help personalize the learning experience.


ALTERNATE ENDING:  Find a significant moment of action or an important decision made by the hero.  Have students create alternate paths or conclusions to the story if that action or decision had not been made.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST HERO STORIES either individually or as pairs, take two stories and create a Venn Diagram or 3 column chart to find what characteristics, decisions, actions, beliefs, ideals, goals, etc. the two heros have in common and what important differences make their stories different


After reading a hero story, have students list the characters in the story, then create simple face masks for them. Draw or print out lifesize heads of the characters in the hero story, glued them on cardboard, then put on them on sticks that can be held up to cover their own face, showing everyone in the class who they are representing.

Small groups can brainstorm decisive moments in the story, then act them out, creating their own dialogue and following appropriate action for the situation.

Alternately, have a student play the role of a hero and have other students interview them, or have two characters in the story debate each other over an issue in the story.


Divide the class into small groups and have each group identify two MY HERO stories they have read that have a hero they admire.  Within the group, a mask is made (see above) for both heroes.

The small groups report to the class their choice of two heroes, creating a list of heroes who might be invited to lunch.  Using this list, small groups brainstorm questions they would like to ask each of the heroes on the list.

One volunteer from each group joins the "lunch table," preferably in the middle of the class, using one of the group's masks to identify who they are representing.  When all "heroes" are seated, the conversation is started by going around the room and having each group share one of their questions, either to an individual hero or to the table of heroes.

The "facilitator" (frequently modeled by the teacher then assumed by a student volunteer) also asks questions that relate the heroes lives to our contemporary times and keeps things rolling.

During the heroes' conversation, each student in the audience keeps notes in a two column chart with the headings: When _______says...    ...it makes me think...  These notes will be used for discussion and turned in as an exit ticket (you don't get out the door without turning it in) for grading.

After the heroes have had a conversation among themselves with the host's assistant, the Hero characters are encouraged to ask questions of the audience, particularly related to how the problems that the heroes confronted are being dealt with in today's world and by people like the students.

Audience members use their notes to reference specific quotes said by heroes in order to ask clarifying questions.

This activity can be repeated using the second set of heroes each group has chosen and made a mask for.







Jack Johnson

By: Alex from San Diego
Jack Johnson is a musician who encourages kids to take care of the environment.


By: Anna from Fredericksburg
Aragorn is an important hero in The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien.

Nancy Lublin - Crisis Text Line

By: Shannon Luders-Manuel
Nancy Lublin is founder of the Crisis Text Line, a volunteer-run nonprofit for mental health support through text messages.

Organizer created on 7/1/2020 6:18:12 PM by Jerrilyn Jacobs

Last edited 9/21/2023 4:28:59 PM by Laura Nietzer