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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Character study, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 10 of 10
1. Character Day: Taking a Look at the Traits Needed to Do What’s Right

Character Day!Character Day is September 18! With the start of school, many educators and staff may already be teaching character education to foster a warm, productive classroom community. For others looking to spend a moment reflecting on the concept of character, we are highlighting books for teaching about justice and the traits needed in the long struggle for it.

We are highlighting books that will spark conversations centered on leadership, love, kindness, social responsibility, perseverance, fairness, and teamwork.



Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving

A collection of original poems centered on giving and spontaneous acts of kindness, which also incorporate larger themes of community, intergenerational relationships, young mentors, and care for the environment.

The Can Man

To earn money, a young boy decides to collect and redeem empty soft drink cans, but ends up giving away his money to help a local homeless man.

The Legend of Freedom Hill

A fictional story set during the California Gold Rush, in  which a girl teams up with her best friend in search of  gold to buy her mother’s freedom from a slave catcher.

Under the Lemon Moon

Rosalinda sees a man leave with a large sack ­full of  fruit from her beloved lemon tree. After consulting with  family and neighbors about how to save her sick tree, Rosalinda sets out in search of La Anciana, the Old  One, the only person who might have a solution to  Rosalinda’s predicament.


Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan

Based on heartbreaking yet inspirational true events in the lives of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Brothers in Hope is a story of remarkable and enduring courage, and an amazing testament to the unyielding power of the human spirit.

Crazy Horse’s Vision

The true story of the great Sioux warrior who, as a  young boy, defies tradition and seeks a vision on his  own in hopes of saving his people.

Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue with Today’s Youth

Mrs. Parks received 500 to 1,000 letters a month from children throughout the United States and the world. Dear Mrs. Parks grew out of Rosa Parks’ desire to share her legacy with all “her children,” and perpetuate a dialogue that will be recorded for generations to come.

Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story

The true story of Robert Smalls, a slave steamboat  wheelman who commandeered a Confederate ship  during the Civil War and escaped with his family and  crew to freedom.

Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story

The true story of Chiune Sugihara, the “Japanese  Schindler,” who, with his family’s encouragement, saved  thousands of Jews in Lithuania during World War II.


Game, Set, Match, Champion Arthur Ashe

A picture book biography of tennis player Arthur Ashe,  who began his career playing tennis as a child on the  segregated courts as a child in Virginia and went on to  become the top tennis player in the world.

How We Are Smart

Musician Tito Puente. Ballerina Maria Tallchief. Explorer Matthew Henson. Congresswoman Patsy Mink. These are some of the people profiled in this book. They are well known for different reasons, but they also have something in common. They were all smart! When readers see how the people in this book used their smarts, they will learn about themselves too, and their own unique ways of being smart.

I and I Bob Marley

A biography in verse of reggae legend Bob Marley,  exploring the influences that shaped his life and music  on his journey from rural Jamaican childhood to  international superstardom.

 Discussion Questions During and After Reading:

  • What kind of person is the main character or historic figure? How would you describe him or her? What does he or she value? How does he or she act in the face of adversity or inequity?
  • What motivates the main character or historic figure to fight injustice or inequity? What obstacles does he or she encounter?
  • What injustice does the main character or historic figure see or experience? How does he or she solve (or work towards solving) it?
  • What risks does the main character or historic figure take for something he or she believes is right and worthwhile?
  • The main character or historic figure strives to make a difference. How do you think young people can make a difference? How would you go about addressing a wrong?
  • What did you learn from this story? How might you turn what you learned into action?
  • Even if this story is set in the past, how might this story still be timely? How does it relate to conditions in our own community or the news today?


  • Read two of the books suggested above. What are some characteristics the two figures or characters have in common? How do their traits help them succeed?
  • Pair these books with news examples of young people helping others or speaking out about injustice. How do these examples show someone is never to young to make a difference and take on injustice?
  • Explain that people are often honored on postage stamps. Have students design a stamp to honor the figure or character in the book. Ask students to write a paragraph describing and explaining their designs.
  • Have students compose and present a speech that will communicate the thoughts and feelings of the main character or historic figure to an audience of young people.
  • Imagine that you are this historic figure or main character and write a diary account of daily thoughts and activities. Be sure to capture his or her feelings about the people he or she meets and what happens to him or her.

For further reading on character, character education, and social-emotional learning:

Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Specialist, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. In her column at The Open Book, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

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2. Examples of the 2 Most Common Templates for Developing Characters

In early November, I wrote about Characters in Action-Driven Novels and Those in Character-Driven Stories.

A few nights ago, engrossed in The Hundred-Foot Journey directed by Lasse Hallström from a screenplay written by Steven Knight and adapted from Richard C. Morais' 2010 novel The Hundred-Foot Journey, I was struck how perfectly Hassan exemplifies the character-driven profile while Papa Kadam assertively personifies the action-driven profile.

1) Reflective of a character-driven character profile
Hassan, before moving on when faced with failure / challenges / obstacles :
  • Slows down
  • Reflect how he's doing while being sensitive to others
  • Evaluates his behavior and reactions 
  • Examines at what went wrong from all angles
  • Learns from his mistakes

2) Reflective of an action-driven character profile
Papa Kadam, on the other hand, classically impulsive and, when faced with failure / challenges / obstacles (until the very end):
  • Doesn't stop to evaluate what went wrong
  • Thinks less
  • Acts / reacts faster 
  • Multi-tasks
  • Focuses on the achieving the goal not how his behavior affects others

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3. Floaty Boy

floaty boy 450


Revisiting a character from last year, based on my grand-neffy.

Feeling the need to make time for playing with personal projects again.

5 Comments on Floaty Boy, last added: 8/20/2014
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4. Cardinal #6 with Video

I felt like I had to do at least one more cardinal.  And since yesterday's cardinal was biking, I thought we should go old-school and have a cardinal flying today. I think this guy is enjoying the last of the warm weather before the snow moved in tomorrow. :(

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5. Cardinal #5

What better warm up for a Monday morning than drawing a bird on a bicycle?

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6. Cardinal #3

Today's cardinal is taking advantage of his natural Mohawk.  Sorry, I didn't have time to do a video today.

0 Comments on Cardinal #3 as of 4/11/2014 10:53:00 AM
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7. Should Characters Change During a Story? For Teachers and Writers

Found at this link: http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/southern-belle.htm

I’ve been thinking a lot about this question lately–should characters change throughout the course of a novel, and more specifically–should they change for the better? In the latest novel I’m working on, I had a fairly simple, but hopefully humorous-appealing-to-boys story, idea for a middle-grade series–especially book one. While writing it and finishing the first draft during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month which is November), I realized that one reason why I wasn’t falling in love with the story yet is it was SO plot-driven. My main character was cute and clever and funny, but did he learn anything from his experiences? Did he change? Not much, and in the rewrite, that’s one thing I plan to work on.

In Finding My Place (White Mane Kids, October 1, 2012), Anna the main character definitely changes from the beginning of the book to the end of the book. I think it’s one reason why the book was accepted by a publisher and the reason why it’s fairly universal, even though it’s set in 1863 during the Civil War. Anna has to grow up and accept responsibility. She has to adopt to her new role in the family. She has to make decisions that affect more than just herself. She is not like this in the beginning of the book–in spite of her 13 years of age back in Civil War times. She was still acting like a child before the Siege, always wanting to write in her journal and not help out her ma.

You can help children understand character growth and change using books and characters, like Finding My Place or even picture books with younger students–any book or story that has a character (not concept books probably) who shows growth due to experiences. You can discuss these questions below with students when focusing on characters. (These questions will work for any book–not just mine. :) )

  • How is the character different at the end of the story than at the beginning?
  • What events happen in the book to help the character change?
  • Does the character change for the better or for worse? Explain!
  • Why do you think the character changed?
  • Can you think of a time in your life when you might have changed like this character did?

You would probably focus mostly on these questions during reading, but remind students of the answers when they are writing their own fiction stories.

For more information on Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, please see this page.

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8. Letters from the Ledge by Lynda Meyers

I recently met someone new via the Internet. It happens all the time, right? Only this time, instead of the raving maniacs or kooks I sometimes deal with (just kidding) the person was an author and really nice lady. I agreed to host her on my blog (below) and read her YA book, Letters from the Ledge. I am so happy I agreed to this. The book is a fascinating exploration of the ways in which our lives interweave with particular people on a daily basis without our even realizing it. Ms. Meyers' ability to draw the reader into the story and make us care for the characters is well done. She endeavors to help the reader understand why some teens 'cut' themselves or consider suicide while coming to grips with their situation. While this is not normally the type of book I would pick up in the store (or online these days) because I enjoy adventurous Fantasy and a rolicing wild ride of questing with dragons and swords, I read this the day it arrived from cover to cover within a few hours. Continue reading

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9. Character Study Reveal : "The Gift" - Feedback Welcome

The Gift
As promised, this is the character study that I've been working on.  Together, the images tell a story that I've entitled "The Gift."  This was done in ink and gouache

The Perfect Gift...

Done with a simple dark background to
emphasize her despair at the realization.
I guess this isn't EXACTLY simple - like I was originally planning. The character is, but I still managed to include more details in the surroundings.  I created a family photo wall (instead of having the story images stand alone) and kept the background black/white/gray so that they would stand out.  It just occurred to me that I didn't put the brown dirt smudges on her clothes that I'd intended before photgraphing this, but I'll get back to that.

Oh Happiness! (with a plan in mind)

This...is...perfect...(grunt, heave)...

I'd appreciate any honest comments and criticisms from those in the illustra

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10. Character Studies

A character studies for young boy and girl.

4 Comments on Character Studies, last added: 10/19/2009
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