Teaching Characterization with Amazing Grace

“She didn’t mind if they were read to her or told to her or made up in her own head. She didn’t care if they were in books or movies or out of Nana’ s long memory. Grace just loved stories.”

And so begins one of my favorite children’s books. Grace is a girl after my own heart. I originally bought this book to read to my children when they were young. Now I use it in my sixth grade classroom.
I love using picture books to teach my sixth graders more complicated literature concepts. One of my favorite is Amazing Grace written by Mary Hoffman and illustrated wonderfully by Caroline Binch. I use this to do a lesson on characterization.
Grace is a young black girl who loves stories. She also loves acting out stories. Naturally, when her class is going to put on a play, Peter Pan, she desires to play the lead character. She is discouraged from trying out by her classmates who remind her that Peter Pan is white and a boy. Grace’s grandmother boosts her confidence by taking her to a ballet whose lead ballerina from Trinidad.


In addition to confidence, Grace also works very hard to prepare for the part. This makes a great jumpstart or review on characterization.
An activity sheet is included.

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