Close Reading: Characterization

I, like many of you, work with some truly amazing educators.  Yesterday we went on a walk through of the classrooms and I knew I had to share this fabulous lesson that two of my colleagues, Kristi and Debbie, did with their students.  Let's call it, "Close Reading Character Sketches" (yep...Common Core tie ins all around!)

During the course of a core lit novel study, many instances of character development and description are bound to occur.   The novels Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis and Wonder by RJ Palacio are no exception.  They are both filled with a plethora of character building paragraphs.  So, while reading these novels, character traits, growth, and development is something that becomes somewhat of a focus.   

To emphasize that as a focus, and to get the kids going back into their reading to make inferences about the main characters and then "prove their inferences", Debbie and Kristi photocopied some paragraphs that were particularly rife with characterization and gave them to the students.   They asked the students to look for sentences which showed the reader traits such as feelings, actions, relationships, thoughts, and words.  When they were reading, the students highlighted those areas, marking the text as they went along.  

They then drew a picture of the main character, based on the description in the text.  Once that main picture was done, students used their highlighting and note taking to create 6 folded "doors".  The "doors" used quotes from the text which helped to develop the character in some way (based on the categories that they had previously highlighted.)

On the inside of the folded doors, the students wrote the meaning of the quote, inferring the implied meaning for the character.  

Here is the exact steps the students took to complete this task.  You can see that they did several reads, going back into the text each time looking for evidence to support their inferences.

I really loved this when I saw it.  Immediately, my brain started flying to all of the different applications that it could have to a myriad of different novels and short stories.   I am definitely going to be doing this in my room!  What is something you have done with characterization in your classroom?


  1. I love this! We are reading wonder soon and this will be perfect for my 6th graders!

  2. This is a great way for kids to explore character, such a fantastic idea! It's very helpful that you included the steps too, pinning this on my literacy board to use! :)

  3. We are in the midst of character analysis and I love this idea! Wow! Love you sight and TPT store.

  4. I really love your TPT and your blog is awesome! I would really love to win What a great little activity

  5. This is a fantastic idea which really encourages students to think critically and make connections to the characters. Thanks so much for sharing - I can't wait to do this with my class after the holidays.

  6. Agreed. It remains a good idea and a difficult taks to kids focused in reading. Good blog.

  7. Thank you for sharing this wonderful activity! My 5th graders will be reading Bud, Not Buddy the next few weeks. I will definitely be utilizing this idea in my class.


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