The Hero’s Trail

The Hero's Trail by T. A. BarronAnyone can be a hero.

Heroes are people who triumph over obstacles, advocate for good, and show uncommon bravery or strength of spirit. They inspire all of us to find the best within ourselves, and, most importantly, they make the world a better place.

Here, through moving narrative and powerful profiles of heroes of all ages and from all walks of life, acclaimed author T. A. Barron sets young people on a path toward finding the hero inside themselves.

Highlighting the heroic traits of courage, hope, generosity, compassion, and perseverance, this new edition of a beloved book has been completely revised for a new generation of readers.

978-0-14-240760-8 | 192 Pages | Ages 8+


More about this book:

Print the newly updated Hero’s Trail Study Guide

View the Bibliography of Heroes

View awards The Hero’s Trail has received


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“In this affecting book, Barron compares life to a journey, explores the way heroes inspire and guide us along the way, and shows how to make life ‘a walk on the hero’s trail.’ In eloquent, engaging prose that often directly addresses the reader, Barron defines the qualities of a hero by drawing on diverse, well-chosen examples from both history and myth—from ordinary kids to the likes of Prometheus, Harriet Tubman, and Stephen Hawking… A rewarding, informative read, the book introduces and pays homage to heroes throughout time, literature, and life, and can serve as an inspiring resource for triumphing over difficulties. Stirring quotations, religious to literary; footnotes; and an extensive bibliography make this a boon for educators as well as for readers intrigued by the myth of the hero and what it really means in both life and literature.”
Booklist—Starred Review

“Barron connects us to the moral giants…Here is so much grace to regard closely in mind, heart, and soul, as we keep moving on our own trails through life.”
— Robert Coles, M.D.

“Straightforward and incredibly important (especially in this day and age), The Hero’s Trail is both potent and inspiring. You can’t help but feel the hero inside you rising when you read this book.”
Chinaberry Book Review

“Environmentalist author of several epic-length fantasies, and founder of an award for heroic young people, Barron invites readers to hike with an international company of heroes from history, literature, and contemporary news reports. Defining five types of heroism, he develops the idea that anyone, of any age, anywhere, can walk a hero’s path, given some combination of courage, faith, perseverance, hope, ‘moral direction,’ and humor. He makes his points in a lucid, direct way, supports them with anecdotes featuring, for the most part, children or teenagers, and closes with a gathering of inspirational lines… The simplicity of the message and wide range of examples combine to make compelling motivational reading.”
Kirkus Reviews

“This smallish but well-designed book bursts with big ideas. Weaving in family and personal biography with the accomplishments he has so carefully researched. Barron writes as if his readers were part of a campfire conversation. In this feast of hope and inspiration, children learn about people like Justin Lebo, who fixes old bikes and gives them to homeless children, and Jane Goodall, whose passion for apes started when she was yet a whippersnapper. Such stories offer abundant proof that no one should ever stop believing in the possibility of a better life. Barron concludes by discussing the qualities that heroes share and reminds us that though an act of heroism may often go unnoticed by most people, it still impacts society and our environment.”
NAPRA Review

“In a different type of book for fantasy author Barron, he shows that heroes can guide readers as they travel the trail of life, enabling them to become heroes themselves and inspire others… The stories are about actual people in history or the present, both famous and not, who have demonstrated a particular type of heroism. The heroes represent a diverse population, male and female, young and old, and from many different cultures. Barron’s message is that a hero can be anyone and anyone can be a hero… Because of the emphasis on character education in schools, this book might be useful to teachers and school librarians.”
Voice of Youth Advocates

“Barron differentiates between the terms ‘hero’ and ‘celebrity’ and probes the qualities that constitute the former…The stories of Merlin and Prometheus mingle with those of Lance Armstrong, Charles Eastman, and Helen Keller. There are many examples of courageous children from Ruby Bridges and Mattie Stepanek to lesser known, but equally inspiring young people..Entries are footnoted, so readers have a wealth of books, articles, and Web sites to pursue for further information. Barron likens the journey through life to a hike on the trail; his thesis is that heroes serve as guides along the way and remind us that we are not ‘walking alone.’ …Well worth sharing. Black-and-white photos and a list of uplifting quotations add to the book’s value.”
School Library Journal

“T. A. Barron begins The Hero’s Trail: A Guide for a Heroic Life by making the reader his companion and trail partner as they hike up a mountain, using brief sketches to introduce five different types of heroes. …The book ends with the ‘hero for all time,’ someone with very special qualities who inspires other (such as Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, Mohandas Gandhi and Helen Keller). Each chapter ends with short vignettes, often with photographs, of ‘More Heroes,’ many young and unknown as well as a few famous names. According to Mr. Barron, heroism requires good character, perseverance, courage, creativity and faith, plus a sense of humor.”
— The School Librarian’s Workshop

“When you think of a hero, someone like King Arthur, Han Solo, or Clint Eastwood comes to mind. Yet, it is more often than not someone who you might not notice who is truly a hero. In this book, the author concisely illustrates from legend and reality the true nature of a hero, defining the qualities of perseverance, kindness, courage, etc that set a hero apart from the crowd. While many of the people he uses will be familiar, such as Esther, Princess Leia, Anne Frank, for example, some of the real life heroes are people who have been ignored. He presents role models for not only children, but for all people to strive and emulate in their lives.”
Huntress Reviews

“No matter the age of your graduate, here are books to motivate, celebrate, and help them prepare for the new challenges that lie ahead. …T.A. Barron’s book “The Hero’s Trail” is now in paperback. This book reads like a conversation and pulls the reader into one story after another — stories about courage, perseverance, and compassion.”
Newton’s Book Notes

“I have taught Mr. Barron’s Hero Project (the one referenced through the Barron Prize) and WOW, it’s really fantastic. Illuminating the difference between a hero and a celebrity was something I assumed would be a no-brainer for my students but actually, it opened up a host of fantastic discussions. Society has blended the two together in a way that is almost detrimental to the social fabric of our nation, but by separating them from one another — and taking a deep look at ‘What makes a Hero’ vs. ‘What is a celebrity’ — a heck of a lot of light bulbs were turned on for my kids.
“It really brought depth, texture and substance to my class. I’d HIGHLY suggest you check out the opportunities being offered here. Truly, this stuff is the real deal!”
— Alan Sitomer, California Teacher of the Year

“Thank you for sharing all of these stories of goodwill and triumph! I picked this book up hoping to be inspired and that is definitely how I feel walking away from it. It’s so wonderful to see how many people there are—especially at such a young age—who have pursued selfless goals in order to make the world a better place.”
— A judge for the Nonfiction Book Awards
(This book was awarded the Gold Award in 2015.)

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