Monday, March 1, 2010

Reacting to Characters

Talking about characters is a very important focus. It will aid in comprehension and deepen their thinking about books.

Remember, these techniques and talk points are all applicable to ANY book - trust me, I can pick up Brand New Readers and do this, and Lightning Thief too. Adapt. It works.

Have a chat about how a character is like other people or characters you know. Note behaviors, actions, and words...explain how you can relate it to a type -- for example, characters will be the underdogs, or the bullies, or the hero -- and talk about how they fit into the story and it unfolds. Knowing "types" of characters will help them organize thinking, and when they encounter a similar "type" in another book, they will be able to predict and understand why they do things according to their roles.

Another thing to talk about is how there are twists and turns in the story based on a change in attitudes or actions in the character. Stories don't happen in isolation -- stories happen because of characters. Maybe a character starts out one way, but there is an event that changes their thinking, and therefore, their behavior. So many stories are based upon a character change - that is an important thing to recognize as a reader.

Something I am really happy to see is a broader representation of gender and cultures in books. It is important to note how they are portrayed in books and why. It will open them to a world beyond just their own heritage and gender...that is a great thing. Books are a great launching point for so many discussions that you would never have thought to just "bring up" with your kids. And so valuable in widening their worlds.

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