Characters are People Too

Why go to the trouble of creating projects for the kids who are reading the classics?

First of all it isn’t trouble. It is work, but not a burden. That’s because I see the value for the kids far outweighs the amount of time necessary to create a project that helps to bring the story alive.

When I was given a reading assignment in high school, my first thought was, “Oh no, how am I going to get through this assignment and receive an ‘A’? Will I be able to answer the questions in class? Probably not.” My critical thinking skills were weak – less than weak. They were pretty much non-existent. To make the grade I had to focus my attention on homework assignments and tests. Generally, I could do quite well if I read summaries or used Cliff Notes. There wasn’t an Internet filled with vast supplies of thought on every subject known to man. In the end, I got my A’s in English, but I didn’t learn anything about literature or stories, nor did I enjoy myself.

I look back and see that grabbing the meaning of a story through summaries and Cliff Notes didn’t bring the story to life and who wants to make friends with a bunch of dry characters who have no personality? Not me! Characters are people not facts in a Cliff Note to memorize for a test. This is one reason our literature club enjoys a project with each classic we read. The other reason is because critical thinking increases in the process. Maybe we can talk about that another day.

If you want to have fun with Beowulf try one of these projects along with your reading. Our group in 2012 created a talk show called The Dr. Wulfgar Show. Kids of all ages love this project. Here are a few more that you might like.

Construct a model of Herot (i.e. map, floor plan, 3-D model).

Create a model, drawing, etc. of Hrunting or  Beowulf’s sword .

Create the dragon by drawing, sculpting, paper-mâché, etc.

Choose a scene like the events that lead up to the dragon taking the treasure and write a story or play.

Create a comic book story about the battle between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother.

What about you? How do you view characters? Do you think comprehension is increased when characters are viewed as people with personalities?

Want Help Starting Your Book Club? Read This Post.

Want Help Starting Your Book Club? Read This Post.


  1. Those sound great! I remember in high school the classics were such a bore. Part of it is the style of the language, but the characters always felt flat, so it was hard for them to come alive. It wasn’t until college where I had a professor who did lots of fun projects, but more than that, he was passionate about the books we read. His energy, more than anything I think, made it come alive for me. You’ll make it come alive for the kids. 🙂

  2. Interesting thought, Angela. The passion of the teacher makes the difference. I appreciate your encouragement.

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