Personification – Figurative Language

Make Connections While Reading a Story

Photo By: John Morgan

So far in our series on figurative language, we have discussed alliteration and the difference between similes and metaphors.  Remember figurative language is a descriptive way of saying things that adds variety to writing.


Personification gives human characteristics to non-human objects.  This allows the author to bring an inanimate object to life and describe it in new ways.  For example, you could describe the movement of the wind in the trees by saying “the trees danced in the breeze.”  Trees cannot physically dance so by describing the trees in this way, you are using personification.  “The time rushed past,” “the alarm clock yelled at me to wake up,” and “the cheery daffodils smiled up at me” are all examples of personification.

Personification in Books

One more obvious example of personification is in Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.  In this story, the tree befriends a young boy throughout his life and gives the boy different things as he ages.  The tree is treated as though it is a character in this story.  It is a great book to start a discussion about personification with your child.  Another example of personification is the poem “The Duel” by Eugene Field.  This is the classic poem about the fight between the gingham dog and the calico cat both of which are obviously stuffed animals.  The narrator also tells how the clock is the one who told him the story.  The stuffed animals, clock, and a plate are all personified to make up this interesting poem.

Make the Story Jump Off the Page

Once you have read several books or stories containing personification, encourage your child to use personification in a story of their own.  A simple way to do this would be to have them picture their toys coming to life at night.  What would the toys do?  How would they act?  What adventures would they have?  Use these questions to help them write a story personifying their own toys.  Not only will it stimulate their imagination, it will also be practice in writing with personification.

Personification really allows a story to come to life.  It allows the author to use even more vivid and colorful verbs in his writing.  In the next figurative language post, we will discuss how hyperbole makes a story more humorous.

Do you use personification when talking to your child? 

How do you help them personify objects in their writing?

Elementary Reading Curriculum at Smart Tutor

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