Teaching About Characters

Screen+Shot+2012-09-09+at+10.27.18+PMThis week I have been reading Goal 6 in Jennifer Serravallo’s The Reading Strategy Book.  This goal has 24 strategies to help readers improve their comprehension in fiction by thinking about characters.  The introduction to this goal is so good that I do not want to forget any of the important details.

Here are my big takeaways from Goal 6’s introduction:

Characters are important because they:

  • help readers stay engaged.
  • become our friends
  • help us learn about lives outside our own
  • help us think differently about people
  • help us better understand others

“Characters are constructed.  Readers need to pay attention to the details that the author includes to figure out who the characters is,” p. 162.

Readers are ready to think about characters when they can:

  • retell the most important events
  • understand why events are happening
  • can identify the problem and solution
  • can visualizing the setting

“You have to know about the text level to understand what to expect of a reader’s response,” p.164.

Here is what to expect at different text levels:

  • Levels E – J:  Characters have simple feelings which are shown in the illustrations or stated directly in the text. “He is sad.”
  • Levels J – K: Characters feelings change but their traits stay the same.  “He was upset, but now he is happy because…”
  • Levels N: Characters are multidimensional with good AND bad traits.  “Amber is a good friend to Justin but she is sometimes jealous.”
  • Level P: Readers should put traits together to name a theory. “Koya is friendly, but when she keeps her feelings in it causes problems.”
  • Level Q/R: Secondary characters become more developed and have an impact on the main character. “All the people in India Opal’s new town are important to her…”

The above continuum is SO helpful to me!  I hope it is helpful to you as well.


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