Heroes - Lives to Learn From
Each month on the Core Virtues website, we feature the life of a hero or heroine – men and women who have tirelessly pursued excellence in their lives and helped improve the lives of others. We tie each month’s biography to the virtue of the month or to a theme suggested by the particular time of the year.
Respect and Responsibility
In September, when students begin their studies, they are often torn between “back to school” excitement and the lure of fading summer joys. What better heroine for September than that chronicler of the sea, Rachel Carson!
Rachel Carson 1907-1964
Carson’s childhood love of the sea and all of nature led her to a fruitful career in marine biology and gave our country a poetic and prolific writer on natural history. Her three volumes Under the Sea Wind (1941), The Sea Around Us (1950), and At the Edge of the Sea (1953) were histories of the ocean and its sea life. Her lifelong interest in preserving natural wonders made her one of the first environmentalists.
In the 1960s, she began to write on the dangers of new chemical pesticides (DDT) being sprayed without regard to the delicate ecosystems they damaged. Her most famous book, Silent Spring, published in 1962 helped launch the environmental movement, and is widely regarded as one of the best volumes of non-fiction published in the twentieth century. Discover Magazine named Silent Spring one of the 25 greatest science books of all time. Carson’s work educates, instills a sense of wonder, and actually led to banning of DDT as pesticide.
In September, as Core Virtues schools focus on “respect and responsibility,” we hope you’ll celebrate this woman who throughout her career exemplified respect for our natural world and care in its stewardship.
Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder
Illustrated by Thomas Locker. Fulcrum Publishing, 2004.
Rachel Carson: A Twentieth-Century Life Ellen S. Levine.
Viking Juvenile, 2007.
September 11 Recommendations:
At the primary grade level, a simple and solemn acknowledgement of the day and its significance could be followed by a reading of:
New York’s Bravest Mary Pope Osborne
Dragonfly Books, 2006. K-3
This tall tale of Mose Humphrey, a legendary nineteenth century New York firefighter, is dedicated to the memory of the 343 firefighters who lost their lives in rescue efforts on that day. While squarely in the tradition of tall tales, Osborne’s retelling invokes the heroism and courage of those who actually run into harm’s way, while others are fleeing from it. A fitting tribute to those who lost their lives helping the victims of that tragedy.
For the upper grade levels, a clear and sober overview is:
America Is Under Attack Don Brown
Flash Point, 2011. 4-6
This is an honest, sober, and gripping account of September 11 by children’s author Don Brown, who has written on topics ranging from the sinking of the Titanic to Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon. At 48 pages with evocative water color illustrations, it is a succinct and compelling overview for fourth to sixth graders.