Reading Strategies Goal 6: Thinking About Characters

Hello there! Today, I am continuing our book study of The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo!  I'm so excited to be part of this book study and to have the opportunity to share just a few things from this incredible resource!

I will be sharing my thoughts and takeaways from Goal 6 - Thinking About Characters.  If you would like to read about the first five goals, check them out here:

Before I begin, can I just say how much I really loved reading this book?  Serravallo makes this book so user-friendly.  Each strategy has its own devoted page.  She provides a brief overview of the strategy.  She also includes "lesson language" and suggested prompts.  I don't know about you, but I loved having a list of prompts available when trying out a new strategy!

 Talking about the characters in a book is easy and something we naturally do, but how do we move beyond simple recall and challenge our students to really think about the characters?

Serravallo begins the chapter by stating that "Character development is often intertwined with plot development" (pg. 162).  We should remember that characters in a story connect the story events together, and paying attention to the details regarding character development can deepen our understanding of a story.  

We all know that most children have at least one or two (or twenty) book characters who they LOVE.  For me, it was any of the Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, and Laura Ingalls.  Characters, in a big way, can help children stay engaged in reading and, well, want to read.  When we connect with the characters in a story, we are more motivated to go beyond recalling the character's name and begin to try to understand the character's traits, determine the relationships between multiple characters, make inferences about a character's feelings or thoughts, and so on.  

Serravallo shares 24 (!!!) strategies for helping your students think about characters.  I picked three to share my thoughts on below.

Strategy 6.3 - Put On the Character's Face

This is a strategy that I have used before, and I decided to share it because if you haven't done it, you have to!  This strategy is basically what it says above - the reader makes the face the character makes at a certain point in a story.  This strategy seems so basic, but it really helps us put ourselves into the story, make inferences about the way a character feels, use visualization, and even make real-life connections.  

How much fun would it be to pass a small mirror around the guided reading table to let students look at their "character face"?  

Serravallo includes a photo of an anchor chart titled "How do they feel", along with pictures of children showing different feelings.  It would be fun to take pictures of your students making different faces to show feelings and make an anchor chart out of the pictures!  If you're short on time, I made a feelings poster that prints on standard-sized paper.  You could make a few copies and slip them into page protectors for repeated use!  Click here to download the poster!

Strategy 6.7 - Role-Playing Characters to Understand Them Better

Much like putting on a character's face, role-playing a character is a great way to put ourselves in the character's shoes and really try to understand them.  Utilizing this strategy can be as simple or complex as you make it.  Like with the other strategies, Serravallo lists several great prompts you can use with this strategy, and the prompts are what takes this strategy to the next level of deepening a reader's understanding of the character.  For example, one prompt is, "Now that the puppet acted like the character, how do you think he or she felt?" (pg. 172).  This strategy is great for visualizing and making inferences!

Serravallo shares several tips in the book about finding printables to use in role-playing.  She mentions making puppets, and I created a quick puppet template page for you to use.  It prints two puppets per page, so make your copies and cut in half.  Click here to download the puppet page!

Strategy 6.11 - Character Comparisons

I'm sure most of us have had our students compare characters, and I'm including this strategy because I love the speaking prompts Serravallo suggests in the book on page 176.  Her prompts help students analyze the traits they have compared and contrasted.  

This strategy is highlighted as one for older students.  Since my heart is in kindergarten, I thought about ways to use this strategy with younger readers.  One way to make this easier for younger students is to provide the two characters they will compare, whereas older readers should pick the two characters they are comparing.  Also, you would do the strategy activity together on chart paper instead of making them write their own comparisons.  

For more advanced readers and writers, I made a simple Venn diagram printable and a "Comparing Characters" bookmark that may come in handy.  Click here to download them!

I hope you have enjoyed reading my thoughts about this chapter!  I would love to hear about how you use these strategies in your classroom!

1 comment

  1. Thank you so much for linking up! I love the idea of passing a mirror around during the lesson to make the face. I also love the way that you have adapted the character comparisons! Not only does that work for younger grades, but it would also be a great scaffold for older students who are struggling with this skill. Awesome post!


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