Although I seldom read children's books anymore - to myself, anyway - I think that, with a few exceptions, the books I read as a child have stuck with me in a more powerful way than the stuff I've read in the last 30 years. Some of those childhood characters were my heroes, and once I was introduced to them I was eager to read as much as I could about them and to try to emulate those traits of theirs that would help me lead an interesting and valuable life. I learned a lot from those characters.
What I learned:
from Doctor Dolittle - that communicating with animals is not impossible and that they should be treated with respect, even if they are a food source. Except chickens. I have no respect for chickens.
from Babar - that being on the heavy side doesn't have to lower your coolness factor. It also helps if you are a natty dresser and you drive a sporty red car. Also if you are the ruler of your own country.
from Tintin - that if you're going to travel to exotic places and get caught up in dangerous situations, it's best to keep an awesome trench coat on hand and have a clever talking dog on your side. I don't have a dog. I have three cats. They talk - or two of them do - but they're not very clever. Consequently, I rarely allow myself to get caught up in dangerous situations, although I do try to travel to exotic places whenever I can.
from Rufus M - that even though people may laugh at you or tell you you're wrong, if you do what you know is right it'll all come out okay in the end. Except you sometimes don't know when the end is.
from Mary Poppins - that you can be kind-hearted and strict-minded at the same time, and that magical experiences are not just for children.
What made me think of all this is that I recently got Ian a Tintin shirt. He loves Tintin, which means that even though he has his own childhood heroes, I was able to pass on a few of my heroes to my children. It also means that some heroes are timeless.
I think his shirt is cool, and I wish I had my own collection of shirts with favorite characters on them.
I have a couple of handfuls of other heroes from back in the childhood day: Scout Finch, Hiawatha, Milo, Jody Baxter, Jeff Bussey, the Gilbreth children. Well, you get the idea. So who are your childhood literary heroes? Who would you put on a shirt?