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Character Analysis Lessons, Anchor Charts, Reading Responses, and More

What is character analysis?

When we read fiction text, we think about the type of characters that are in the text. Characters have different personality traits or character traits, have relationships with other characters, and undergo changes. For students to comprehend the story at a deeper level, we need to teach them to think about characters, notice what the author wants us to see about them, and use that to understand the message of the story. However, this can be a challenge because students have to make inferences using the evidence the author gives us.

How do we teach character analysis? 

It can help to start with a character analysis lesson about differentiating internal traits and external traits. Students sometimes get mixed up and think that the way a character is described physically tells us their personality. Instead of “judging a book by its cover,” we can help students learn that internal traits are the characteristics that define who a character is. 

Physical traits are often stated directly. For example, Verdi is described as having “bright yellow skin” and “sporty stripes.” These traits help us picture what Verdi looks like, but they don’t tell us about his personality or character..

character analysis lessons 2 Character Analysis Lessons, Anchor Charts, Reading Responses, and More

When we teach students to analyze characters’ internal character traits, it can help to have them look for four things:

  1. What the character says (words)
  2. What the character does (actions)
  3. What the character thinks (thoughts)
  4. What others say about them (dialogue from other characters)

Here’s an example from Verdi by Janell Cannon. 

What does Verdi say? “I may be big and green but I’m still me!”

What does Verdi do? 

  • Launches himself from the treetops
  • Splashes frantically
  • Races to the river and gobbles up leaves

What does Verdi think?

“I will climb and jump so fast that I will stay yellow and striped forever.”

What do others say about Verdi?

“You’ll never grow up to be properly green- always fidgeting.”

All of these clues put together tell us that Verdi doesn’t want to grow up and change, but in the end he does. He accepts that he is still Verdi, even though he looks differently.

You can get this graphic organizer for free here!

character analysis 3 Character Analysis Lessons, Anchor Charts, Reading Responses, and More

Character analysis lessons & anchor charts

One fun way to get kids thinking about character traits and how they help us analyze characters is to put different descriptions on index cards and have students sort them into the four categories: what the character says, does, thinks, and what others say about them. 

Have students locate the exact evidence from the text buy pointing to it with their finger to ensure that it is taken directly from the text.

As they share their text evidence, ask students to categorize it: is it something the character says, does, thinks, or what others say about them? This can help them think about the kinds of evidence they’re choosing and make sure they are collecting different types of evidence. 

From there, you can help kids think about what each of the clues tells us about the character. What inference can we make based on those clues?

I love using this resource to build an anchor chart that we can refer back to as we read other stories!

Anchor chart Character Analysis Lessons, Anchor Charts, Reading Responses, and More

In another lesson, you can work on character trait vocabulary. Sometimes students struggle to come up with words to describe characters that go beyond “nice” or “mean.” Provide a list of character traits and read aloud a mentor text, asking students to figure out which trait could be matched to the characters. 

Character traits list Character Analysis Lessons, Anchor Charts, Reading Responses, and More

Get the list here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Character-Traits-Conflict-and-Change-posters-activities-and-worksheets-995060

I provided students with a character traits list when we read, “Wilma Unlimited. Students discussed how Wilma demonstrated specific traits from our character traits list. Students had to locate the exact evidence in the text to justify their responses.

Writing about characters

Writing a short response to a read aloud, shared reading, or even an independent reading book doesn’t have to be challenging! One easy way to help students write responses about their characters is to provide them a simple sentence starter that asks them to make an inference and analyze the character, and include their evidence.

Simple reading response Character Analysis Lessons, Anchor Charts, Reading Responses, and More

The example below is one I’ve used before independent reading, but this works when you’re reading to students as well!

I can tell ____ is ___. This is because ___. 

Another way to build students’ reading response skills – this is especially relevant if your state has a short constructed response portion of their state tests – is to provide a variety of sentence frames and have students build paragraphs out of them. In this response, students gathered character dialogue, actions, and what others said to make inferences about the character.

character response 1 Character Analysis Lessons, Anchor Charts, Reading Responses, and More
Fiction reading responses 1 Character Analysis Lessons, Anchor Charts, Reading Responses, and More

You can get the character analysis scaffolded reading responses as part of the Fiction Scaffolded Reading Response resource here!

And you can build the anchor chart and work through a structured reading passage, exit tickets, and more with this character Analysis unit!

Character Analysis unit Character Analysis Lessons, Anchor Charts, Reading Responses, and More

Get more resources for teaching about characters in my tpt shop:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Chrissy-Beltran-Buzzing-With-Ms-B/Search:character

Helping students analyze characters with these lessons can build better comprehension and writing skills too!

Meet our Guest Blogger:

Chrissy Beltran of Buzzing with Ms. B has taught upper elementary and supports teachers through coaching, resource creation, and consulting! She creates reading genre activities, comprehension strategy lessons, and engaging writing lessons that work for 3rd-5th grade! You can read all about it on the Buzzing with Ms. B blog and get all the resources on her site or on TpT!

Blog: https://buzzingwithmsb.com/vibee-teacher

Site shop: https://buzzingwithmsb.com/shop

TpT shop: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Chrissy-Beltran-Buzzing-With-Ms-B

Want information on more comprehension skills? Check out these posts for more!

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