Who do you look up to?

A teacher who really inspires you? A coach who helps you reach for the stars? Maybe you admire your mom or dad, who have guided you through life, or a sibling or grandparent who makes you proud.

Whoever you look up to, you know that person makes you want to be your best, and in “The Book of Heroines” by Stephanie Warren Drimmer and “The Book of Heroes” by Crispin Boyer, you’ll find even more inspiration.

What do you think of when you hear the words “hero” or “heroine”?

You might think of someone in a cape and tights, able to walk on the side of buildings or beat up bad guys. Those are great comic-book examples but real heroes and heroines are humans (and animals) who do brave, smart, strong or compassionate things.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re in need of a leader to follow. You might like Eleanor Roosevelt, who “changed the role of the first lady forever” through thoughtful deeds and actions. Or how about Cory Booker, who as mayor of Newark, N.J., saved lives and fought crime in his city. He is now a U.S. senator.

If sports are more your thing, you’ll find many inspirational stories. Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson both fought against racism in their respective sports (track and baseball). Surya Bonaly broke figure skating records with her feats on the ice, and “she did it on her own terms.” Pat Tillman was a football player and a soldier.

Or maybe you’d like some exciting footsteps to follow. Open a book and find Mavis Batey, who was a secret code-buster during World War II. Robert Gould Shaw led a charge of black Union soldiers during the Civil War.

Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane were both gun-totin’ women of the West. Witold Pilecki was captured on purpose during World War II so he could spy inside Nazi prisons.

And if they don’t inspire you, keep looking. You’ll find plenty of ordinary, everyday heroes and heroines here and in real life.

We all need someone to emulate, someone who makes us want to be better and do better. In “The Book of Heroes” and “The Book of Heroines,” your child will find uplifting (and unique) footprints to follow.

He or she will read a variety of minibiographies of people from the pages of history and mythology, actors and their characters, comic books and people who do superheroic things, writers and readers, warriors, spies, animals, and others who will pique her interest. Each page is awash in color and just-right detail (these books are, after all, from the National Geographic folks), as the authors give your child plenty to choose from.

It may, in fact, be hard for kids to pick who to read about next.

Also nice: these books cross-reference one another, and are actually relatively gender-balanced, so give “The Book of Heroes” and “The Book of Heroines” to your 8- to-14-year-old. These are surely books to look up.

Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was 3, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

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