Theodore Roosevelt lived an incredible life. He was an author. A naturalist. A rancher. A police chief. A cowboy. A hunter. A governor. A soldier. A president. An explorer. A philanthropist. And that’s probably not even close to an exhaustive list. His life was full of activity. It was full of adventure. It was marked by triumph and adversity to overcome.
It’s worth telling your kids the story of Theodore Roosevelt to inspire them for the same reason that Theodore Roosevelt’s parents made sure he knew about the fascinating and inspiring lives of history. As one biographer observed, “the story of Theodore Roosevelt is the story of a small boy who read about great men and decided he wanted to be like them.”
A while back, we talked about Margarita Engle’s poem about books. In that poem, she talks about how books showed her girls who were “so tall, strong, and clever that they rescue other children from monsters.” She was spurred by the same thing that Roosevelt was, she saw people who inspired her and decided to be like them. But she had an obstacle that Roosevelt didn’t—she wasn’t encouraged to read. She wasn’t told she could be like those great men and women in the pages of her books.
Give your children this gift. Give them books. Give them books that inspire them to be great—tell them the story of Cinncinatus. Give them books that challenge them. Have great expectations for them. Watch them rise to the occasion, as Roosevelt and Engle did.