Across grade levels readers are responsible for getting to know their characters deeply, to walk in their shoes. As intermediate readers, our students need to be able to grow ideas about the characters in their stories. To be able to predict what the characters will think/do later in the story, and to notice when their characters are acting out of the ordinary. They need to be able to understand and explain why their characters are behaving in a certain manner and what causes characters to change.
Here are some ideas to get you started with analyzing characters:
This lesson was built around the mentor text Every Living Thing, by Cynthia Rylant. We study the character of Magda in the short story "A Bad Road for Cats" to understand character traits and determining evidence of character.
This short story "Shells" is also from Every Living Thing. We study Michael to understand that characters change throughout a story and to understand why they change.
My students keep a few handouts in their reader's notebooks with lists of character traits to help jumpstart their thinking about what a character is like, otherwise I often get surface level traits like "angry" or "happy". Providing my friends with these lists helps give them ideas to go from and think about the text evidence they have that supports the trait(s) they're naming for the characters. You can find one of handouts I use here, from Beth Newingham.
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