Characters, Part I: Keeping a Character Chart

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by Elizabeth Cossick, M.Ed.

Sherlock Holmes. Huckleberry Finn. Captain Ahab. Anne (with an “e”). These characters shaped our childhoods, our educations…and, on some scale, our lives.

Book characters are like immortal friends, aren’t they? I will admit it, I am often sad when a book ends and my time with those friends is over.  (Well, maybe not so much with Captain Ahab…but definitely with Anne!)

Yes, characters are what connect us to books. If you want a child to love reading, introduce her to a character worth loving. And if she’s never found one she loves, keep trying!

I remember when I taught fourth grade, one of my students was a particularly reluctant reader. And then, one day, he actually carried a book out to RECESS. To READ. I almost passed out. What brought about this sudden change? He was introduced to…wait for it…Captain Underpants. Hey, whatever works.

So, the next time you sit down to read a book with your children or start a novel with your class, take a little time to talk about the characters. Here are two ideas to help you do so:

  1. Have a Character Conversation. Ask probing questions that will lead to a deep discussion about characterization. Here are a few to get you started: What would it be like if that character rang your doorbell and came to dinner? Would you want that character for a friend- why or why not? Are you like that character in any way? How are you different?
  2. Keep a Character Chart. Have students keep track of who they’re meeting while they’re reading by charting character names, descriptions, and sketches. For a graphic organizer for this idea, click here.

Hopefully these ideas will have your kiddos toting their books out to recess in no time…even if it’s only to see George and Harold’s principal strip down to his skivvies.

Look for the next article in this series on characters: Bringing Characters to Life Through a Wax Museum.

Comment on this post and you could win a $20 School Box Gift Card! (Winners awarded EVERY WEEK!)



Filed under comprehension, Motivation, Parenting, Reading, reading aloud

2 responses to “Characters, Part I: Keeping a Character Chart

  1. Susan Campbell

    This is something I use in my child care with all age groups with the older ones helping the younger ones. Susan

  2. Pingback: Characters, Part II: R.I.P. Boring Book Reports « A Learning Experience