traci's lists of ten

Traci's 11th List of Ten:
Ten Character Diary Entries

Kelly on the NCTE-Talk list asked for some help with character diary entries. As she describes the project:

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.

  1. 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?

  2. 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?

  3. 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 now?

    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?

  4. 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 __________.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 works?

  7. 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?

  8. 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 future.

  9. 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?

  10. 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 you.