A character study analyzes an individual’s characteristics, typically a character from a piece of literature. In addition, character studies often explore archetypes, such as brave heroes and cruel villains.

A character study is an exercise where you analyze and examine the characteristics and traits of a personality, usually from a book, film, or TV show. Writers have been providing us with the joys of literature for millennia, so there is no shortage of excellent characters for children to analyze and study.

When writing a character study, children can choose an individual or have one assigned by a teacher. They can then delve deep into creating a character study for their chosen subject.

Here’s a lovely introduction to analyzing material for your character study that you may want to introduce to your students before getting down to the finer details:

Reading books builds knowledge

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

How to write a character study in simple steps:

First, choose an interesting character:

This could be your favorite person from a book or film. Try to choose a delightful character to study. As teachers, you can also assign children which characters you would like them to learn more about, depending on your teaching topic.

Take notes while reading

If you haven’t read the book yet, you can make notes on your choice as you read! If your character study is from a book you have already read, you can quickly go back through the book to find specific descriptions and key points for that character to help write the character study.

Writing a character study – a top tip:

“Let’s start at the very beginning.
A perfect place to start.” – Maria von Trapp, The Sound Of Music


Always start writing a character study with an introduction. Who is your chosen character, what is their story, and why have you chosen to learn about them?

A good introduction should always make a reader want to read more. Briefly describe your chosen character and why you decided to study them.

Describe your character’s appearance

From their crowned heads, robed shoulders, knobbly knees, and bare toes, children should note all the exciting things about a character’s appearance and write them down in the character study.

What makes your character unique? Do they have anything that makes them stand out? Do they have pink hair, a large scar, or oversized glasses?

For example, Harry Potter has a lightning bolt-shaped scar on his head. This is a critical plot point in the book series. Long John Silver often wore an eyepatch – because he was a pirate.

Describe your character’s personality

When we read a book, words come to life, and we get to know a character by the things they say and do. Does your character have any interesting personality quirks?

For example, Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks likes to speak in quick rhymes. This makes him effective as a character because it helps children to practice phonics, pronunciation, and language skills. Below is the start of Dr. Seuss’ ‘Fox in Socks.’





Knox in the box.

Fox in socks.

Knox on fox in socks in the box.

Socks on Knox and Knox in the box.

Fox in socks on the box on Knox.

Examples of familiar character types:

  • Flat: flat characters are two-dimensional and have one or two simple character personality traits. They are usually minor players used to help the hero or move the plot along.
  • Rounded: a rounded character is three-dimensional and has many complex personality traits that develop and change throughout the writing. This usually shows growth within a person or creature and helps to propel the story forward. Most main characters should be rounded.
  • Stock, or stereotype: stock characters are stereotypes or clichés. For example – miserly, older men like Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol, bad-tempered headmistresses like Miss Trunchbull from Matilda, and traditional roles such as princesses, pirates, wizards, and goblins.
  • Static character: a static character does not change throughout the narrative. They do not learn or grow and are usually background characters.
  • Dynamic character: a dynamic character changes and grows as they move through the plot. They respond to events and experiences and can change their behavior to become a better person or, in some cases, a worse person. A good character always goes through some transformation; it’s how people become superheroes – or supervillains!

Describe your character’s background

Think about their history and where they came from. Did they show up one day in a basket on someone’s doorstep? Did they fall from the heavens and become part of the human race? Or were they just born in a hospital?

What does your character bring to the plot?

What happens to your character throughout the story? For example – in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice undergoes many changes. Sometimes physically, usually emotionally, hardly ever logically. One minute she’s as big as a house; the next, she’s as tiny as a caterpillar. This is all very curious and makes us want to read more, but Alice also learns from her actions and grows within the narrative.

“I—I hardly know, Sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.” – Alice

Try to think about what type of person they are and how they fit into the story’s world. For example, is a protagonist or an Are they a hero or a villain? Are they somewhere in-between?

Protagonist – the hero of the story!

The protagonist is the main character in a story. If you have chosen the protagonist for your character study, you should have a lot to talk about.

  • In “Peter Pan,” Peter Pan is the protagonist.
  • In “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” Alice is the protagonist.
  • In “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy is the protagonist.

Antagonist – the big baddie!

The antagonist is a character that everyone loves to hate. An antagonist directly opposes the protagonist. Or in some cases, the antagonist can be an obstacle, entity, or force that represents a challenge for the main character to overcome.

  • In “Peter Pan,” Captain Hook is the antagonist.
  • In “Watership Down,” humans and the progression of society is the antagonist, causing obstacles against nature and the animals’ way of life.

Character study – conclusion

Like putting the icing on a delicious cake, a reasonable conclusion binds everything together and finishes it neatly. When writing a character study, it’s always necessary to end with a decision. Sum up your points and explain what you have learned about your character.

Fun characters for children to learn about and make their character studies about:

Early Years Characters

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • The Rainbow Fish
  • Mog
  • The Gruffalo.

Roald Dahl

  • Charlie Bucket
  • Willy Wonka
  • Matilda
  • Esio Trot
  • Danny, Champion of the World
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • The BFG.

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly… if you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely.” – The Twits, Roald Dahl

Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss’s books are always a good choice, as Dr. Seuss was a master of words and a lyrical genius. Children engage with the characters through rhythm, rhyme, and excellent visuals.

  • The Lorax
  • Fox in Socks
  • Sam, I Am
  • The Grinch
  • The Cat in the Hat.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

The classic story of Alice is a great one to use in the classroom. Full of zany characters and unique ways with words that children will cherish forever.

  • Alice
  • The Mad Hatter
  • The Cheshire Cat
  • The Queen of Hearts.

Peter Pan

  • Peter Pan
  • Wendy
  • Captain Hook.

The Wizard of Oz

  • Dorothy
  • The Lion
  • The Scarecrow
  • The Tin Man
  • The Wicked Witch.
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