Read to Write: Character Analysis

Posted on 3/20/2017

By using a standard set of meaningful questions to write interpretations and reflections about the main character of a story - book after book - we exercise our ability to make meaning and think deeply as a habit of mind.

Essential Questions

Why do we focus on the main character of a story to make meaning?

How do we develop the ability to read to make meaning and to develop our ability to write?

Sometimes anecdotal stories are very effective in making a point and “showing” how something works.

I tutored a Bernard in reading and writing for four years, always once a week for a least an hour and half, and sometimes twice a week. My purpose was to develop his abilities to read to make meaning and to write to express meaning.

In the fourth year, and for the “50th time," Bernard answered these questions by interpreting and reflecting upon a chapter in a Harry Potter novel.

Think about it. He answered these questions again and again across the years to progressively more advanced stories and novels. 

Well, his growth demonstrated by responding to this Harry Potter novel was simply off the charts! Bernard answered these questions supported by evidence (text to self, text to text, and text to world), and he ended up writing six pages (12 pt. font in a Word doc). Before he shared it with me, he deleted all the questions, and indented his paragraphs. It read like a well-organized literary essay! 

Bernard had gained such a high level of automaticity with these questions, that his thinking became a habit of mind and quite profound. Fellow educators that read his “essay” thought that a university student had written it. His parents were exceptionally pleased!

Try these questions after reading a short story or chapter.  Whether you are a student, teacher, or a parent, you will exercise and grow your ability to make meaning. 

1. Why did the character act this way? (INTERPRETATION)

2. Was it right or wrong for the character to act this way? (REFLECTION)

3. What did the character get from acting this way? (INTERPRETATION)

4. How am I like the character in this story? (REFLECTION)

5. What is the lesson learned? (REFLECTION)

6. How has this lesson changed the way I think? (REFLECTION)

Read and make meaning as a habit of mind.

Be a lifelong learner.

Learn more about Brian's work at