Teaching students about character traits in reading is important but can be difficult to do. Character traits are such an ABSTRACT idea that some children have a hard time understanding what character traits are. Students typically have to use inferencing skills to “read between the lines” of what information the author is giving you about the characters in the story, such as what the character is saying and doing.
How to Teach About Character Traits
Start by defining exactly WHAT character traits are. Then together, make an anchor chart about character traits. Have students help you name certain traits that they believe characters in stories might have. Make sure to get them thinking about character traits on the OUTSIDE and on the INSIDE! I like to do another lesson about positive character traits vs. negative character traits. (Some traits can even be neutral). Finally, my biggest piece of advice when teaching character traits to students: Before diving into traits about a CHARACTER, have students pick traits from the anchor chart to describe themselves. This gives a lot of practice and helps you to see who is understanding the concept.
When you are ready to dig in deeper with students about character traits, here are some great mentor texts to assist you that are all fabulous in helping teach students what character traits are. After reading the book, we discuss the character and which character traits were shown. The biggest question that I ask students is- ”How do you know this?” This is an important skill to teach students as it helps them with inferencing and text evidence. I have students look at their actions, feelings and thoughts to help them decide on traits about a character.
Jabari Tries By Gaia Cornwall
Jabari is making a flying machine. It will fly across the yard. ‘It’ll be easy–I don’t need any help,’ Jabari declares. But he quickly realizes that inventing can be more than a little frustrating.
After the Fall, How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again By Dan Santat
After falling off the wall, Humpty Dumpty is very afraid of climbing up again, but is determined not to let fear stop him from being close to the birds.
The Most Magnificent Thing By Ashley Spires
A little girl has a wonderful idea. With the help of her canine assistant, she is going to make the most magnificent thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. But making the most magnificent thing turns out to be harder than she thinks.
Thank You, Omu! By Oge Mora
When the aroma of Omu’s homemade stew fills the air, her neighbors arrive, one by one, for a taste until all is gone except for her generous spirit.
Grumpy Monkey By Suzanne Lang
Jim Panzee wakes up in a bad mood one beautiful day, but he keeps denying he is grumpy even as his friends give advice for feeling better.
Sam, the Most Scaredy-cat Kid in the Whole World: A Leonardo, the Terrible Monster Companion By Mo Willems
When two fearful children are terrified of each other, their respective monsters try to help.
The Donkey Egg By Janet Stevens
After fast-talking Fox leaves him with a large, green egg, Bear spends minutes, hours, days, and weeks lovingly caring for it with the help of his neighbor Hare.
The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do By Ashley Spires
One day Lou and her friends are looking for a ship to play pirates in when someone makes a suggestion to play up in the tree. Lou has never climbed a tree and isn’t sure that she wants to. What will she do?
What are your favorite books for teaching about character traits?
You May Also Want to Check out:
- 8 Awesome Fiction and Nonfiction Picture Books for Teaching Cause and Effect
- Back to School Books by Kevin Henke
- The Best Fiction and Nonfiction Book Pairings for Older Students
- The 5 Best Fiction and Nonfiction Book Pairings for Younger Students