How to Teach Character Traits to Elementary Students in 2024

Character analysis is an important reading comprehension strategy for elementary students to become proficient in. When readers analyze a character, they identify character traits that describe the character. This process helps readers better understand and enjoy stories they read and listen to. Learn all about how to teach character traits below!

how to teach character traits

What are Character Traits?

Character analysis is a reading strategy where students use inferences to describe a character’s personality. When readers are analyzing a character, they are identifying character traits that describe the character and describing what the character is like on the inside. 

Often, authors do not directly describe a character. Readers must make inferences about the character based on their actions, feelings, dialogue and thoughts. When we analyze a character, we are also considering how the character changes throughout the story and why they act the way they do. Readers also consider the effect a character has on others and what others think of them.

Why is Analyzing Character Traits an Important Comprehension Strategy?

It is important for students to be able analyze the characters they read about. When students evaluate characters as they read, they are able to predict and understand actions the character takes. As a result, students are able to have a better understanding of the text and a deeper appreciation of stories.

Analyzing a character also helps students gain a better understanding of the character because they are able to make connections between the character and their own lives. Perhaps they can relate to the character’s feelings or actions, or the character reminds them of someone they know personally. Students that use this strategy are more likely to ask questions while reading and understand how a character grows and changes throughout a text. 

Teaching Standards for Character Traits

Standards for this reading comprehension topic include…


  • RL.1.3: Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
  • RL.2.3: Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
  • RL.3.3: Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
  • RL.4.3: Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
  • RL.5.3: Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).


  • LA.1.8.B: describe the main character(s) and the reason(s) for their actions;
  • LA.1.8.C: describe plot elements, including the main events, the problem, and the resolution, for texts read aloud and independently; and
  • LA.1.8.D: describe the setting.
  • LA.2.8.B: describe the main character’s (characters’) internal and external traits;
  • LA.2.8.C: describe and understand plot elements, including the main events, the conflict, and the resolution, for texts read aloud and independently; and
  • LA.2.8.D: describe the importance of the setting.
  • LA.3.8.B: explain the relationships among the major and minor characters;
  • LA.3.8.C: analyze plot elements, including the sequence of events, the conflict, and the resolution; and
  • LA.3.8.D: explain the influence of the setting on the plot.
  • LA.4.8.B: explain the interactions of the characters and the changes they undergo;
  • LA.4.8.C: analyze plot elements, including the rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution; and
  • LA.4.8.D: explain the influence of the setting, including historical and cultural settings, on the plot.
  • LA.5.8.B: analyze the relationships of and conflicts among the characters;
  • LA.5.8.C: analyze plot elements, including rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution; and
  • LA.5.8.D: analyze the influence of the setting, including historical and cultural settings, on the plot.

3 Tips for Teaching Students about Character Traits

Below are suggestions for when you’re teaching your students to analyze characters when reading.

1. Read Aloud Picture Books

Reading aloud picture books is a great way to model and practice this reading comprehension strategy. There are tons of great read alouds out there for teaching students to analyze the characters of a book. Some high-quality examples include The Recess Queen, Gaston, Amazing Grace, Jabari Jumps, and Not Norman.

2. Make Anchor Charts

Anchor charts are another great way to teach students about analyzing characters in children’s books. My character traits resource includes an interactive anchor chart that successfully engages students in their learning and provides a visual learning experience for students to learn about analyzing characters.

3. Use Videos

The third on the list of tips for teaching students to analyze characters is playing videos. This is another great visual learning opportunity for students to learn about what can feel like a very abstract idea. Below are some examples of videos that are great for teaching students how to analyze characters in picture books.

Character Traits Resources

These printable and digital resources for teaching elementary students about analyzing characters make curriculum and lesson planning quick and easy. It includes teacher, parent, and student resources, so you’ll have everything you need to deliver meaningful research-based instruction rooted in current best practices. 

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What is Included

1. Teacher Resources

There are teacher notes about the strategy, teaching ideas, a planning page with question prompts, and list of mentor texts, so you have all of the information you need to plan a research and standards-based reading unit based on this reading comprehension strategy.

2. Parent Resources

There is a parent letter and a reading log with suggested question prompts so parents can confidently support and reinforce the strategy you are teaching with their children at home.

3. Instructional Resources

There are printables to create a large anchor chart and reference charts. Both save you lots of time searching for anchor chart ideas and supplemental teaching tools.

4. Student Resources

There are 3 printables and 2 activities for students that provide meaningful opportunities to practice and make sense of the reading strategy in a fun and engaging way.

5. Digital Resources

There are digital versions of several of the resources so students can access them in school or at home using a technology device of their choice.

Why Teachers Love this Resource

  1. This collection of resources is versatile in that it can be used on it’s own or can be used to supplement any reading curriculum, so you will be able to continue to use these resources if your school adopts a new reading program or you switch school districts.
  2. This resource is part of a larger collection of reading strategy products, so you can provide a consistent instructional approach that your students quickly learn and understand the expectations and routines for. Learn more about this collection here!
  3. It’s a huge time saver! Instead of hunting for background information on a reading strategy and then searching for resources to teach the strategy, this comprehensive resource includes all of the information and resources you need to teach a whole unit on this reading strategy.
  4. The student activities are a lot of fun for students, which helps create a productive learning environment where students are engaged and learning!
  5. It includes resources that provide a great way to create a home-school connection with students’ families and support parents/guardians in continuing student learning at home.

In closing, we hope you found this post about how to teach character traits helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in this other post about elementary reading comprehension strategies.

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