Last week I was chatting with a second grader about characters in stories. I said, “As a reader, I know you’ve noticed that characters in stories usually change in some way.”
“No they don’t,” she replied matter-of-factly.
“I did say usually. It doesn’t always happen, but usually, when writers write stories, they usually have the character change in some kind of way by the end of the story.”
“Not in Disney,” she said. “In Disney, the evil character is always still evil by the end of the story.”
She had a point. Nonetheless, I wasn’t talking about Disney… I was talking about a picture book by Willems. So, instead of engaging in a back-and-forth, I encouraged her to look for the way the main character changes in the text by Willems and then encouraged her to notice the way that characters change in realistic fiction / picture books she reads going-forward.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation… about the fact that we need to provide our students with texts that show them that characters often do change in stories. The changes might be subtle, but change does occur.
Hence, when you’re writing your Slice of Life Story today, you might try to focus on some kind of change that has happened as a result of the situation you’re writing about in your anecdote. Strive to show your reader, rather than tell your reader, how you changed in the slice of time you decide to write about. Perhaps it can be a good text, to keep in your pocket, when you’re encountered with a similar conversation going-forward.
I am a literacy consultant who has spent over a decade working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grade K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).