Hero makeover: Authors make changes to heroes list in inspirational book

Published in LancasterOnline and in print on August 1.

With the prevalence of superheroes in the media, including recent film releases such as “Captain America: Civil War,” it’s increasingly easy for children to imagine themselves in the shoes of their favorite hero.

Amid the popularity of superheroes, America’s unsung heroes and people who have shaped history are sometimes forgotten.

Dennis Denenberg, a retired Millersville University professor, says he aims to make sure some heroes are never forgotten.

In 2001, he and co-author Lorraine Roscoe published their first book, “50 American Heroes Every Kid Should Meet.”

It has stayed in print ever since, something that Denenberg says is a rarity in the publishing industry, especially for children’s books.

Fifteen years later, Denenberg and Roscoe have announced the August release of a revised edition of the book, which will feature 10 new heroes.

The process of selecting which heroes to remove from the list of 50, and which heroes to add, was difficult, Denenberg says.

“I’ve always felt strongly that we all need heroes, and we need to learn about the famous heroes,” Denenberg says. “They’ve made the world a better place.

“The nine we cut clearly deserved to stay in the book, so it was a tough process,” Denenberg said, noting that the 10th person cut was comedian Bill Cosby, who was automatically removed from the list because of recent sexual assault allegations.

Five of the 10 new heroes were picked by the readers through a vote on social media. The other five were picked by Denenberg and Roscoe.

In “50 American Heroes Every Kid Should Meet,” two pages are devoted to each hero, which includes a story about the person, a recommended reading, a “power quote” and a way for kids to get involved with each hero’s history.

The intended reading level for the book is fifth- to eighth-graders, and it features different sections of interest to kids and adults alike.

Part of the royalties of the book go to Diana’s Dreamers: Determined to Defeat Breast Cancer, an organization started by Denenberg on behalf of his sister, Diana, who passed away in 2007 after an 18-year, on-and-off battle with cancer.

Diana, Denenberg says, is one of his biggest heroes, and was one of the inspirations for the book.

Denenberg isn’t planning sequels to the book, but he says if the revised edition is “really successful” that he and his co-author would consider writing another book in a similar format.

The revised edition of “50 American Heroes Every Kid Should Meet” will be sold at Barnes & Noble, on Amazon.com and on Denenberg’s site, Heroes4Us.

If a book is purchased through Heroes4Us, more of the proceeds will be donated to Diana’s Dreamers, and each copy will be personalized and individually autographed.

Denenberg and Roscoe also signed a one-year deal to run features on the syndicated Mini-Page for the heroes series of the children’s newspaper.

Each month, one hero’s entry from the book will be run in its entirety on the Mini-Page, which appears in the Sunday LNP.

This will start Sept. 10, just in time for the beginning of school.

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