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Lesson Plan

Mapping Characters Across Book Series

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Mapping Characters Across Book Series

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions plus reading time
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



In this lesson, students are introduced to a character from a literature series. The class critically looks at the character and his or her development over the course of the story. Students read critically to learn about the character's growth, challenges, and successes. In a guided activity, using an online interactive, students assist in mapping out the character throughout the story. Finally, on their own, students read another book from the same literature series and create their own graphic map, including symbols and descriptions of the character's life.

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Series Book List: This printable sheet features a list of individual titles in a variety of book series.

What Is Character?: This sheet offers students a definition of and information about the literary term character.

Graphic Map: Using the Graphic Map online tool, students can chart events in the life of a literary character.

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Lucy McCormick Calkins notes that: "Reading the second or third book in a series is rather like rereading a familiar book, and this means that reading within a series can often give the reader extra support." Series books allow students to focus their attention on the ways that authors work. Because of the familiarity of the setting, characters, and plot in serial books, the reader is released from "figuring out" each book anew. Instead, as students read more and more titles in a series, they can consider how the author works-what does the author change? how does the author keep readers coming back?

Series books have another advantage-they generate excitement in readers. In their article "Our Repressed Reading Addictions," Reid and Cline ask: "how do readers become addicted to reading? For many, series books provide the incentive to devour text."

This lesson capitalizes on these benefits of series books by engaging readers in reading serial books with particular attention to the ways that the author builds characters.

Further Reading

Calkins, Lucy McCormick. 2001. The Art of Teaching Reading. Addison Wesley Longman.


Reid, Louann and Ruth K. J. Cline. "Our Repressed Reading Addictions: Teachers and Young Adult Series Books." English Journal 86.3 (March 1997): 68-72.

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