Who knows the characteristics and moral fibers of what makes a hero better than a person who has made a living creating heroes? Possibly nobody. For longtime comic book writer and fan, Brad Meltzer believes the people need to “re-align” what the view of heroes are in a society dominated by social media celebrities.
This belief led Bred Meltzer to create a line of children’s books titled, Ordinary People Can Change The World. This series of non-fiction stories spotlight great people throughout history so kids can learn about real-life heroes.
His latest book which highlights Neil Armstrong leading up to his walk on the moon. His other books center around Martin Luther King Jr, Amelia Earhart and other will show Armstrong drawn as a child to emphasize any kid can grow up to be extraordinary, to be a hero.
“It’s a puzzle that I have to figure out. We all know that we like these people, right? No one’s going to argue that Amelia Earhart or Abraham Lincoln or Rosa Parks or Dr King isn’t incredible, but you have to stop and ask yourself, you’re not writing the book from just your heart-it’s got to hit your head too. It’s got to have this real thing that makes sense for that particular person. For me, it’s about trying to figure out, what is the moral lesson that I can give my own kids from this person? It’s kid of like playing, you know, when you’re in college and you have to find the theme in a paper or in a great book. I just happen to be doing it in someone’s life. And I think Neil Armstrong, it was clearly all about taking that first stop, and not just as a clever play on words, but I quickly realize that if you ask anybody what Neil Armstrong’s great accomplishments are, they’ll very quickly tell you that he was the first person who stepped on the moon and that’s obvious. Those people are right. But as I look at it, I realized that the only reason he got to take that “giant leap” is because of all these thousands of smaller steps he took before that. So the book opens with him as a kid, climbing a tree. And just being able to do that, you have to make a plan, you have to figure it our, you have to execute it.”
Despite the focus on real-life heroes, Meltzer couldn’t help but go back to his comic book roots, even comparing Neil Armstrong to “The Dark Knight” himself, Batman.
“I know it sounds absurd to say Neil Armstrong and Batman in the same sentence, but to me, they are the same. They really are. They’re American icons. In fact, who’s to argue-it’s the old story of, you know, the character who comes to life? Isn’t that why we love our heroes, because they’re going to have an effect on sand that we can be better people? That’s why I love Batman. It’s not just because I love watching him punch people in the mouth. I actually love him as I get older, and the reason I love him when I’m older is because of what he teaches me about myself and what I can aspire to. And that stubbornness that I hope I can apply in my own life for something good, that we can be a regular person but we can be better than what we would be in a given day.”
It doesn’t matter if the hero is a NASA astronaut, Civil Rights leader or a billionaire playboy who dresses up like a bat and fights crime at night one can’t deny the need of positive role models for our children; especially in a society dominated by social media celebrities and “reality” television.
I Am Neil Armstrong is available now.