Readers learn about a character through their actions and words. Rarely does an author directly say the character is curious or hardworking. Instead, the reader is actually using the skill of making inferences to figure this out. For developing readers, identifying character traits can be a challenge.
When I introduce this skill, I like to read aloud a story that has a very strong character such as the little wolf in The Wolf Who Cried Boy.
After reading and discussing the story, I ask the children to come up with a few words to describe how the young wolf acted. Often they suggest sneaky or dishonest. Then I ask them to explain which actions in the story support this. It is important that the students don’t just chose random words, but rather can give concrete examples to support their conclusion.
To anchor this lesson into our learning, I print a copy of the book’s cover and add the character traits words to a bulletin board display.
It is a great reference tool for future stories. We can compare characters, connect similar traits, and the children refer to the spelling of words when they are writing their answers.
Other times, the words we are trying to come up with seem elusive. That is when I have my students refer to their character traits list. I’ve organized 135 character traits in alphabetical order. The students keep them in their Reading Notebook for handy reference.
In order to provide several opportunities for the students to practice, I wrote several mini-stories. Each one requires the student to identify a character trait as well as evidence to support that conclusion.
Throughout the year, we continue to identify character traits, expand their vocabulary, and add to our bulletin board. If you would like a copy of my character traits list and minilessons, click here.
Here are some other books I recommend for teaching character traits:
Please let me know in the comments below how you teach character traits to your students.