Studying Character Traits

A main skill taught in reading classes is the ability to understand characters in books and stories.  There are four main aspects to studying character: character traits, character development, character’s words, and character’s actions.  Understanding basic character traits allows your child to understand the motives of the characters in books and the decisions they make.

Define Common Character Traits

Before your child can assign character traits to the characters in his books, he must understand what some of the common character traits are.  While we as adults understand the meanings of words like honesty, responsible, dishonest, or irresponsible, children may not have the same level of understanding.  In fact, they may not even know what those words mean.  Take a list of common character traits and help your child define what those words mean so they can recognize them in books.

Character Traits in Books

Once your child understands what some of the most common character traits are, he can start identifying them in the books he reads.  Focus on the main character at first.  Ask your child what character traits he sees in the main character.  But don’t just stop there, next ask your child why he chose that character trait.  Talk about how the author shows them in the novel.  After your child gets the hang of identifying the main character’s traits, move on to the secondary characters.

Character Traits in Real Life

Another way to focus on character traits in books is to recognize those same traits in real life.  Keep those character traits in your mind (or a little list in your purse or bag).  When you see a person around you showing one of those character traits, point it out to your child.

The Effect of Character Traits

The character traits of a character affect how that character acts.  An honest character will tell the truth even when it could hurt him.  An irresponsible character will choose to not complete a homework assignment or chore.  Talk to your child about how the traits of a character change the things that they do and say.

Recognizing character traits in books is an important step toward understanding the characters in a novel.  More importantly it will call attention to the character traits they are showing in their own life and the traits they see in the lives of others around them. In the next post, we will discuss the different types of characters found in books.

Do you talk about character traits with your children in the books they are reading?

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