Growing Readers and Writers by Teaching with Mentor Texts

Growing Readers & Writers by teaching with Mentor Text

Spring Mentor Text Lessons - Character Traits

We've had a warm winter and the wildflowers are beginning to bloom. Spring has to be my favorite time of the year in Texas because of all the beautiful colors. The most popular wildflower is the bluebonnet. The bluebonnet resembles the bonnets early pioneer women wore to protect themselves from the hot Texas sun. It's also the state flower of Texas.

Texas Bluebonnets

I can't think of a better book to read in the spring than The Legend of the Bluebonnet. Tomie dePaola has written this beautiful folktale about a courageous Comanche girl who sacrifices her precious doll to save her tribe from the drought. This very lonely little girl has lost her parents to the drought and her doll is her only connection to her family. As a result of her sacrifice, the gods covered the ground with beautiful bluebonnets and rain. Tomie dePaola also brings in the customs of the Comanche culture through his writing and illustrations.

Character Traits - Legend of the Bluebonnet

Teaching characterization is not an easy skill to teach because the authors usually don't give word by word descriptions of the characters' personalities in the book. Readers may have to infer from the character's actions or what the character says. By reading the text, students can determine if a character is courageous, determined, fearful, anxious... I've provided three different graphic organizers for studying character traits. Each activity is different.

Character Traits - Legend of the Bluebonnet

Character Traits - Legend of the Bluebonnet

I would suggest that you begin the lesson by reading the story as a whole group and then use an anchor chart as you visually discuss the main character's physical traits and personality. Then, break into small groups to reread the story, discuss the character's unique traits, and complete the graphic organizers.

As your students read the story, they can ask themselves these questions:
  1. What words in the text describe the character?
  2. What do you infer about the character after reading the text? 
  3. What cultural experiences have an effect on the character? How does the character handle these experiences?
  4. How does the character change through events or conflicts in the story? Why do you think these events changed the character?
  5. How did people influence the character? What traits do you think the character has because of the influences?

Students can compare their own character traits to the character in the book. There are several websites I've listed for you to visit if you want your students to learn more about character traits. If you want to learn more about wildflowers, the National Wildflower Center is located here in Austin.
Here's a sample from my Legend of the Bluebonnet product.

The complete product includes The Legend of the Bluebonnet and The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. Both wildflowers are popular in the Texas Hill Country.


  1. Oh my goodness! What a cute model you had for your product! :-) I love your post and these books. Thanks so much for joining in with us again.

  2. Tomie dePaola is one of my favorite authors, so I will definitely be using this in the future! Thank you so much for these great freebies!


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