Kelly on the NCTE-Talk list asked for some
help with character diary entries. As she describes the
The students choose a character
daily and write a diary entry addressing the
chapter(s) covered that day from the point of view
of that character. For example, in Chapter 2 Scout
might write, "Dear Diary, Today I met my teacher.
She is not very nice." I want the entries to be
more than a plot summary, and I thought if I had a
list of questions to stimulate deeper thought it
would help them.
I thought I'd take up the challenge and
brainstorm some possible assignments. If you decide to use
any of them, you might focus the question a bit more -- to
define the particular section of the reading that the diary
entry should cover, or make the question more specific to
the reading itself by mentioning a specific event or naming
other characters. You might also need to change the
phrasing, depending upon the level of your students.
I've written the questions as they'd be
read by the character that the student chooses; so the word
"you" refers to the character -- Scout, Jem, Atticus,
Calpurna, Boo, Dill, etc.
- What are you most afraid of
or worried about? What is making you anxious? Describe
the person, object, or event that bothers you. Talk about
specifically what concerns you -- Why are you worried?
What's the worst thing that could happen? What do you
hope will occur? How do your fears or worries relate to
the things that have happened so far?
- Who has impressed, annoyed,
or pleased you most so far? What other character has had
the strongest effect on you? Who is the other character?
Describe the interaction you've had, and why you feel the
way that you do? How have the other character's actions
influenced the way that you feel?
- When you grow up, what do
you want to do or be? What are your aspirations? What job
do you want to have? When you dream about the future,
what do you think about? What do you dream that you will
be? How does what you want to do relate to who you are
OR if you're character is
already grown up, What do you want to accomplish in your
life? What big goals have you set for yourself, and why?
When you daydream about what you might be or do in your
life, what do you dream about? What are you doing? And
how do your dreams relate to who you are now?
- What is your biggest
accomplishment so far? What have you done that has made
you proud of yourself? Describe what you've done, how it
made you feel, and why you think it was so important --
what makes it your biggest accomplishment? When you think
about your accomplishment, how does it make you feel
about the future? How would you complete a sentence such
as this: when I think about this great accomplishment, I
only hope that in the future, I'll be able to
- If you could relive a
moment, what moment would you like to relive, and why?
What event do you think about? Why is it such a strong
memory for you? Why is it stuck in your thoughts? If you
revisited this event, would you change it? Would you do
anything differently? Would you try to notice something
in particular? Would you want to relive it exactly as it
occurred the first time? Describe the event in a way that
makes your interest in reliving it clear.
- What has made you happy
recently? Describe the event, object, or person who has
brought you happiness, and explore why you felt happy.
Reflect on the event, object, or person -- look back and
think about exactly the way that you felt. What does your
happiness tell you about who you are and how your mind
- Sketch your house, yard,
office, or another important space that you know well.
Label all your special things and the specific places.
Once you've sketched things out, write a description
about the place that explains why it's important to you.
What makes the place significant? Why do you remember it?
How does the place make you feel, and why? How does it
relate to who you are -- is it messy, neat, clean, and so
forth? What qualities does the place have, and how do
those qualities relate to what you want in life?
- What lesson(s) have you
learned? What have the events that you've been through
taught you? Think of them as a sort of fable -- what
would the moral be? Describe the events in a way that
makes the lesson that you've learned clear. Once you've
described the lesson, talk about why it is an important
lesson and how you think that it will affect you in the
- Describe your dream room or
getaway. If you could escape, where would you go? What
would you do? Use details to describe your getaway --
what does it look like? what sounds do you hear? what do
you smell? How does your dream place relate to the places
that you live in and visit now? Reflect on why you would
want to escape to this place -- Why is it better than
where you are now? Why this place instead of another?
- Choose a value or ideal that
is important to you -- honesty, courage, faithfulness,
and so forth. Define your value, and explore how it
relates to your life. Why is this ideal important to you?
What events, objects, or people have brought this word to
mind? And what makes it more than just a word? What makes
it an important value or ideal? Describe the events in
your life that make this an important value, and explore
how and why the ideal has grown so important to
Posted October 22, 1998 on
the Daedalus Website.