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Play / 30 Nov 2015 / by James

What fictional characters can teach real kids


"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends."

-       Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone , by J K Rowling


When Dumbledore recognises Neville Longbottom's actions as a demonstration of courage, a previously - let's say underrated - character is suddenly brought into the spotlight, becoming a role model not only for his fellow students at the fictional Hogwarts school, but for our children as readers. Granted, it may be a fleeting moment of glory in a decidedly inglorious career of misadventures, but Neville Longbottom is one fictional character we'd be happy for our children to take a few pointers from.

Now, we're not claiming to be on par with the late great Dumbledore (although we do love a good sherbet lemon), but we're going to celebrate some characters who we think deserve a few house points for the example they set to readers. If you agree, or have anyone to add, get in touch!


1)    Neville Longbottom from the Harry Potter series by J K Rowling

In today's world of peer-pressure, dubious 'celebrity' role models and a constant push for kids - and everyone really - to toe the line and conform to the norm, it's the perfect time to recognise people when they stand up for what they think is right. Neville tries to stop his friends breaking the rules - put in place for their safety - and we think his eventual reward (and words of recognition from the headmaster) offer a heart-warming example of courage being rewarded in the end.


2)    Sophie from The Sophie Stories by Dick King Smith

Not only is Sophie "small, but very determined" she loves getting out in nature; a valuable role model in today's TV-focused society! We love the Sophie Stories for giving young readers a taste for the great outdoors, and - as clichéd as this might be - for giving girls a role model who would choose a muddy pair of wellies over a pretty dress, any day.


3)    William Brown from Just William by Richmal Crompton

Oldies but goodies, the Just William stories introduce us to another character capable of making today's kids want to switch off the telly, put down the tablet and get out for an adventure in the outside world. William makes his own fun (alright, alright, and plenty of mischief, but he didn't mean to do those things, it's not his fault if they just happen is it?!). The treasure hunts, village shows, grand projects and voyages of discovery that ensue reconfirm just how much fun kids' imaginations can provide - without a computer or TV screen in sight!


4)    Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

We’re being a bit naughty here; although we have included Atticus for being an inspiring character, we think he's perhaps most inspiring for adults.

As a parental figure, Atticus Finch shines with courage, level-headedness and fairness, so much so, even his kids sing his praises (imagine that!) "When Jem an’ I fuss Atticus doesn’t ever just listen to Jem’s side of it," says his daughter Scout. We also respect Atticus for his appreciation of children's clear-mindedness and for recognising that adults aren't always right! "So it took an eight-year-old child to bring ’em to their senses, didn’t it?… Hmp, maybe we need a police force of children,” he muses.

Bear in mind, however, that he wasn’t talking about bedtimes. Everyone knows parents are always right about bedtimes.

Which fictional characters have inspired you or your children? We'd love to hear from you!