Just Imagine

Upper KS2

Heroes Headquarters (heroes & superheroes)

Welcome to Heroes Headquarters, one of 20 exciting themes featured in The Reading Journey App.

Each pack consists of 10 carefully selected titles, designed to support independent reading and to encourage reading for pleasure and wider reading.

Please note the themed packs are a selection of books from the Core Reading Journey packs.

The Reading Journey App was launched in October 2019 and is free for UK schools.

The app is currently available for both Lower & Upper Key Stage 2.

All schools signing up to the Reading Journey app will receive a monthly newsletter, dedicated to sharing new ideas for getting the most out of the app and supporting continued reading for pleasure. Of course, you can unsubscribe from this newsletter at any time

Book introductions

Introduce a large version of a ‘Bubble Thinking Map’ with ‘hero’ in the middle, to explore children’s initial thoughts and ideas about what it means to be a hero.

  • Who is their fictional hero?
  • Who is their hero in real-life?
  • What characteristics does a hero have?
  • Record the children’s ideas in the outer circles, leaving room for additional bubbles to be added during and after reading.
  • Have this displayed throughout the theme.

Discuss different types of heroes from literature and real life. Use examples relevant to your class’s experience:

  • famous ‘save the day’ heroes e.g. Beowulf, Robin Hood, Dick Whittington.
  • unlikely heroes e.g. David (and Goliath), Lion and the Mouse, Hiccup, Percy Jackson
  • sporting heroes and heroes from the emergency services (you could reference 9/11 specifically). You could make reference to the ‘Pride of Britain’ awards – ordinary people doing heroic deeds.

Write the following characteristics on nine pieces of card:

imaginative adventurous ambitious
fearless self-confident caring
determined selfless patient

Alternatively, one of these pieces of card could be left blank for the children to add their own characteristic.

  • To complete the ‘Diamond-9’ activity, the children will work collaboratively in small groups to arrange these characteristics according to how important they think they are to the concept of ‘hero’.
  • The characteristic that they consider to be most important goes at the top of the diamond and the least important at the bottom and this should be decided as a group through discussion and justification of opinions.
  • You could repeat this activity at the end of the theme, without showing the children their initial arrangement, and reflect on how and why their opinions might have changed.

Do all heroes endure hardship, overcome trials and adversity?

Display a large world map, using string or thread to mark on the ‘stories of survival’. This could be used prior to introducing the book Survivors (or any other books featuring true life survival stories) For example, ‘The Girl Who Fell from the Sky’ linked to Brazil on the world map and ‘The Woman Who Froze to Death – Yet Lived’ linked to Norway.

  • What danger might the hero in each of these stories have faced?
  • How might they have survived this danger?
  • Invite the children to record their initial thoughts and predictions about any stories that capture their interest on Post-It notes and stick them up alongside the relevant story titles.

Book talk

Some questions to support group or class discussion around the books in this theme:

  • What would you rather be too bold or too afraid?
    • Consider the risks and merits of each position
    • What makes us afraid?
    • What helps us to conquer our fears?
  •  ‘Superheroes saved hundreds of people. And didn’t get scared.’ (quotation from Stormwalker)
    • To what extent do you agree with this statement?
    • Do you have to save hundreds of people to be a superhero?
    • Is it okay for superheroes to feel afraid or does feeling afraid stop them being a superhero?
  • Create a large continuum using a length of ribbon or similar, with ‘cowardice’ marked at one end and ‘fear’ marked at the other. As the children read, encourage them to reflect on the decisio


Claire Williams is the Year 4 teacher and Reading Lead at a primary school in Essex. She has recently completed an MEd in Children’s Literature at the University of Cambridge.




Jon Biddle has been a primary school teacher for the past twenty years. He helps coordinate the national Patron of Reading initiative, leads workshops about developing reading cultures in schools and writes a (worryingly irregular) blog about ways to get children reading. He recently won the Egmont Reading for Pleasure Experienced Teacher of the Year award.