In our last post on studying characters, we discussed the importance of learning about character traits. Characters in books can also be classifying into types in two ways. They can be sorted by how much information the author gives about the character and by whether or not the character changes throughout the story. Children need to understand the difference between these types of characters and how to decided which type a character falls under.
Flat or Round Characters
Characters can be labeled as flat or round based on how much we know about them. We find out many different things about a round character, but we know very little about a flat character. You can help your children remember the difference by comparing the character to a balloon. A round balloon has lots of air in it, and a round character has lots of information given about it. A flat balloon has almost no air, and we know very little about a flat character. When reading a book, have your child write down the names of two different characters. (It helps if you choose a main character and a secondary character the first time you do this.) Every time you learn something new about the characters, write the information down under the name. By the end of the book or story, a round character should have a long list of facts, but a flat character will probably have only a few things listed.
Static or Dynamic Characters
Characters are labeled as static or dynamic based on whether or not they change throughout the story. Keep in mind, we are not talking about physical changes like growing taller or losing baby teeth. The changes referred to are social or emotional changes such as no longer fearing something or gaining wisdom about a situation. If a character changes from the beginning to the end of the story, it is a dynamic character. A static character will remain basically the same throughout the entire story. For example, a boy who is a bully at the beginning and end of the story is a static character. However, the little boy who is at first afraid of the bully but then learns to stand up for himself and loses that fear by the end is a dynamic character.
Every time your child reads a new book, practice sorting the characters. Ask them to tell you whether each character is round or flat, static or dynamic. Then ask for an explanation of their answer. Your child will be an expert at character types in no time. Our next post will deal with using the dialogue of a story to learn about the characters.
How do you help your child understand the different character types?
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