An essential literacy skill for reading fiction is the comprehension of character perspectives. In order for students to fully understand what is happening in the story, they must recognize that different characters are collectively contributing to the plot. Two Common Core Reading Standards relate to character perspectives: “Identify who is telling the story at various points in a text” (RL.1.6) and “Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories” (RL.1.10).
Joy Cowley’s books offer two ways for you to teach character perspectives to your students: 1) through dialogue and 2) unconventional points of view.
Many of Joy Cowley’s books contain dialogue between different characters. Wishy-Washy Mirror, part of the Joy Cowley Early Birds series, features the characters Mrs. Wishy-Washy, the cow, the pig, and the duck. On page 3, 4, and 5, ask students to identify who is talking and how they can tell. Emphasize quotation marks and words like “said” as markers for character’s speech, which gives the reader insight into the character’s perspective.
Ask the students: why did the cow, the pig, and the duck see different things in the mirror? This comprehension question requires students to recognize that each character has its own perception—because mirrors reflect the things in front of it, each animal sees itself!
2) POINT OF VIEW
The Joy Cowley Collection includes three books called A Book for Pet Cats, A Book for Pet Dogs, and A Book for Pet Parrots. Each of these books contains advice for the reader to be an ideal pet—the narrator begins with “If you are a parrot and you want to be a pet, this is a book for you” (2).
The second person “you” point of view implies that the reader is a parrot. This narrative frame requires the child to adopt the perspective of a parrot who wants to become a pet, not a pet owner (which would be a more familiar perspective). With this experience, the reader takes on the shoes of someone else and learns to dive deeply into a fictional character’s perspective.
This blog post only mentions 4 books, but all of Joy Cowley’s books are stellar titles for teaching students about character perspectives!