Why classical myth and autism?

Why classical myth and autism?

The idea for this project started to take shape at a meeting in 2008 with a special needs teacher, who mentioned that, in her experience and those of her colleagues, autistic children often enjoy classical myth. I began to wonder why this might be the case, and whether – as a classicist who researches, and loves, classical myth – there was anything I could contribute. I started this blog to report on my progress which was often sporadic until the launch of the Warsaw-based European Research Council-funded project Our Mythical Childhood (2016-22) to trace the role of classics in children’s culture.

My key contribution to the project is an exploration of classics in autistic children’s culture, above all by producing myth-themed activities for autistic children. This blog shares my progress, often along Herculean paths, including to a book of lessons for autistic children focusing on the Choice of Hercules between two very different paths in life. The image above, illustrating the homepage of this blog, is one of the drawings by Steve K. Simons, the book's illustrator, of a chimneypiece panel in a neoclassical villa at Roehampton in South West London. The lessons centre on this panel.

Tuesday 18 August 2020

More on why I'm investigating Hercules in children's literature: because there's so MUCH

In the previous posting, put up yesterday, I listed a sample of recent children’s books involving Hercules. I am currently writing about these and will share what I have come up with soon. 

I have also been thinking about the bigger picture of Hercules in children’s literature aided by the article by Lisa Maurice that I have mentioned previously and also by a list of works about Hercules that Lisa has just sent me. Here’s the list of books from Lisa from 1970 down to 2018 with one addition: Hercules and Bampots written in Scots from 2005.


Ian Serraillier, Hercules the Strong


Robert Newman, The Twelve Labors of Hercules


Claudia Zeff, Gill Harvey and Stephen Cartwright, The Amazing Adventures of Hercules (Usborne Young Reading: Series Two)


Bernard Evslin, Hercules

I. M. Richardson, The Adventures of Hercules


Laura Geringer and Peter Bollinger, Hercules the Strong Man (Myth Men: Guardians of the Legend)


Bob Blaisdell, The Story of Hercules (Dover Children's Thrift Classics)

Kathryn Lasky and Mark Hess, Hercules: The Man, the Myth, the Hero

Jan Carr, Hercules: The Hero

James Riordan and Christina Balit, The Twelve Labors Of Hercules

Georges Moroz, Hercules - The Complete Myths of a Legend (Laurel-Leaf Books)

Marc Cerasini, Twelve Labors of Hercules (Step into Reading, Step 3, paper)


Georges Moroz, Hercules: The Twelve Labors

John Whitman, Hercules: Legendary Journeys (Mighty Chronicles)

Nancy Loewen, Hercules (Greek and Roman Mythology Series)


Robert Burleigh and Raul Colon, Hercules


Elizabeth Hookings, Sandra Iverson, Bob Eschenbach, Tom Pipher, Hercules and Other Greek Legends

Della Rowland, Hercules and the golden apples


Geraldine McCaughrean, Hercules


Gill Harvey and Stephen Cartwright, The Amazing Adventures of Hercules (Usborne Young Reading: Series Two)

James Ford and Peter Rutherford, The Twelve Labors of Hercules (Ancient Myths)


Frank Tieri and Jimmy Palmiotti, Hercules: New Labors of Hercules (Marvel Comics)

Geraldine McCaughrean and Cynthia Bishop, Hercules (Heroes)

Chris Mould, and Diana Redmond, Hercules: Superhero and workbook, 2005, 2012

Matthew Fitt, Hercules: Bampots and Heroes, illustrated by Bob Dewar, Edinburgh: Itchy Coo, 57 pages.


Jim Whiting, Hercules (Profiles in Greek & Roman Mythology)


Paul Storrie and Steve Kurth, Hercules: The Twelve Labours (Graphic Universe)

Shannon Eric Denton and Andy Kuhn, Hercules (Short Tales Greek Myths)


Bob Layton, Hercules: Prince of Power (Marvel Premiere Classic)

Bob Layton, Hercules: Full Circle

Janet Hardy-Gould, Hercules,


Bob Layton and Ron Lim, Hercules: Twilight of a God (Hercules (Marvel))

Kate McMullan and Denis Zilber, Get to Work, Hercules! (Myth-O-Mania Book 7)


Sarah Coghill, The Twelve Labors of Hercules

Alex Frith and Linda Cavallini, Hercules The World's Strongest Man


Francesca Simon and Tony Ross, Helping Hercules


Paul D. Storrie and Steve Kurth, Hercules: The Twelve Labors [A Greek Myth] (Graphic Myths and Legends)

Fred Van Lente and Alexey Aparin, Hercules (Myths and Legends)

Brandon Terrell, Greek Mythology's Twelve Labors of Hercules: A Choose Your Path Book (Can You Survive?)

Ryan Madison, Hercules: The First 6 tasks

Tony Bradman, Hercules the Hero (White Wolves: Myths and Legends)

Gary Margrove, Hercules Son of God: Deceit of the Gods (Part 5) (Legacy of the Gods Book 4)


Michaela Morgan, (Illustrated by Glen McBeth), Hercules the hero: a myth from ancient Greece


John Bankston, Hercules (Kids’ Guide to Mythology)

Martin Powell and Alfonso Ruiz, The Adventures of Hercules (Graphic Revolve: Common Core Editions)

Greg Pak and Fred van Lente, Incredible Hercules: Love and War

Estudio Haus, The 12 Labors of Hercules (Ancient Myths)


Anika Fajardo and Nadine Takvorian, Hercules and His 12 Labors: An Interactive

Mythological Adventure (You Choose: Ancient Greek Myths)

Connie Morgan and Herb Leonhard, Hercules on the Bayou

Paul Nation Hercules (Level6 Book 5) older 11-13

Simon Spence and Colm Lawton, Herakles: Book 5- Early Myths: Kids Books on Greek Myth (Volume 5) 4-10 yr olds


Stella Tarakson, Nick Roberts, Here Comes Hercules! (Hopeless Heroes) 6-10 year olds

Gerald Vinestock, Crib and the Labours of Hercules 

Winston Forde and Jermaine Carew, The Golden Gloves of Heracles & Hercules's Gauntlet 9-18 yr olds

Michael and David Sorrow, Heroic Hercules and the Baby Dragon (Learning in Motion Adventures Book 1) younger

Elena Paige, Hercules Finds His Courage: Volume 1 Taki and Toula Time Travelers) ages 6-8.


Lee Smyth, Hercules: Gods Versus Titans (WARRIORS! Book 3) Middle school and teenage boys.

Steve Barlow, Steve Skidmore and Andrew Tunney, Hercules (EDGE: I HERO: Legends) 6-8 year olds (choose-your-own-destiny adventure).

Connor Hoover, Camp Hercules 7-12

The list is full of relevance to the activities – to give context, to provide a starting point, to provide follow-up reading. When I first drafted activities for children, I considered whether it was necessary to introduce Hercules first. Rather, Hercules could come gradually into the activities.

I can still see pros and cons to either approach and the children’s literature could complement either approach – in some books, Hercules is the focus from the start. In others, like Camp Hercules or Crib and the labours of Hercules, the starting point is a child – the main character – who finds themselves unexpectedly inhabiting a world which comprises Hercules and other mythological characters. 

How all this bears on the activities I’ll discuss in the next posting, currently in draft form.

More soon...

1 comment:

lisa maurice said...

Ah yes, I had forgotten the Bbampots which I discovered a bit later and is wonderful! :-)