Understanding Structure In A Hero’s Journey: Reading And Writing Lessons

Mosaic scene from Homer's Odyssey in Bardo Museum, Tunisia

Hi Guys and a happy Wednesday to you! Yesterday was Day 1 of the SMX West Conference in San Jose, CA (See HERE). I only went there for the keynote talk because I thought most of the topics covered pertained to business marketing more than towards us bloggers. It was quite enlightening and I came back with an idea for a blog post. Look for it in the next couple of weeks or so.

Today I wanted to do reading and writing lesson geared towards kids (but, adults can learn from it too). I have divided the lesson into two categories–there is a reading aspect and a writing aspect. I always say (like other incredible writers and teachers) that when you become a good reader, you become a better writer. In other words, when you expose your child (or yourself) to different genres, authors, and notice techniques those authors utilize, you can incorporate them into your own unique writing perspective. And what’s more is you can create a unique voice using your own formulas of writing techniques. So here goes:

What is a Hero’s Journey?

To learn the history of “A Hero’s Journey”, read HERE. In a nutshell, a hero’s journey involves one or more protagonists that succumb to some kind of problem(s) and go(es) to great lengths to overcome obstacles and solve that problem. And in the end, he or she becomes a better or more powerful person.

The Hero’s Journey can be found in classics such as “Beowulf” (See HERE) and “The Odyssey” (See HERE), but there are numerous tales geared towards children. Honestly speaking, a hero’s journey no longer has to be this life-long or epic journey but can involve any kind of positive transformation after a period of trials and tribulations. You can read more about the structure of “A Hero’s Journey” geared towards adults (See HERE).


Lesson # 1: Reading “A Hero’s Journey”:


To introduce children to this literary structure, read them books about real or fictional heroes. Two great titles that follow heroes on their journeys are “The Story Of Ruby Bridges” (See HERE) and “Malala’s Magic Pencil” (See HERE). If you are a parent and doing this lesson, it would be a good idea to read these books on your own before you read them with your children. This will prepare you for any questions that can come up during the lesson.


For young school goers (like Kinders; 1st; 2nd graders), have them fill out a graphic organizer like the one below so they can understand the STRUCTURE of a hero’s journey. Given their young ages, it is perfectly okay to guide their thinking process towards understanding what BIG problem the hero (Ruby Bridges and Malala, in this case) experienced and how they SOLVED the problem. They can draw, write, or verbally fill it with your guidance.


For older graders (3rd and up), instruct them to creatively display their learning. Maybe they do a presentation with colorful charts and visuals. Or they can reenact the story while clearly identifying important parts of the structure in their hero’s journey.

If you are a teacher and teaching middle school or high school, it is completely appropriate to teach them that a hero can have multiple “hero’s journeys” in one lifetime.

Lesson # 2: Writing “A Hero’s Journey”: 

While middle schoolers and high schoolers can choose more advanced literature (like the Harry Potter series (See HERE or HERE) or “A Wrinkle in Time” (See HERE), etc) to serve as reading models, young children in elementary schools should be okay with picture books mentioned above. After doing the reading lesson ONE DAY, do the writing lesson the NEXT DAY to deeply instill the STRUCTURE of a hero’s journey.

For Elementary School Children: Instruct to use the same graphic organizer as the reading lesson to STRUCTURE their hero’s journey.

For more advanced readers and writers, give more flexibility. Pose the following questions to guide their stories structure. *OTHER STUDENTS SHOULD NOT SEE THIS!

  1. Introduce the setting of the story: Where is it taking place? When is it taking place? Introduce the protagonist.
  2. Call to Adventure: This is the place where the protagonist meets a problem in life/society/world (brainstorm “problem” ideas with them). What happens here?
  3. Overcoming the Problem: What are the obstacles he and she run into? What are the steps the protagonist takes to overcome the obstacles?
  4. The Win: What changes are made? The problem is solved.


To conclude the lesson, encourage your children to share their stories with you, your siblings, their teacher, and even their friends.

Well guys, here it is– a reading and writing lesson on teaching the STRUCTURE of “A Hero’s Journey”. I will do another lesson to show how to add fun details to your “Hero’s Journey” story. Happy Reading and Writing!





  1. politicalintuitive
    March 15, 2018 / 5:26 PMMar

    Thanks “H”!

  2. H
    March 15, 2018 / 5:26 PMMar

    Nice post!

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