In Finding My Place (White Mane Kids, October 1, 2012), Anna the main character definitely changes from the beginning of the book to the end of the book. I think it’s one reason why the book was accepted by a publisher and the reason why it’s fairly universal, even though it’s set in 1863 during the Civil War. Anna has to grow up and accept responsibility. She has to adopt to her new role in the family. She has to make decisions that affect more than just herself. She is not like this in the beginning of the book–in spite of her 13 years of age back in Civil War times. She was still acting like a child before the Siege, always wanting to write in her journal and not help out her ma.
You can help children understand character growth and change using books and characters, like Finding My Place or even picture books with younger students–any book or story that has a character (not concept books probably) who shows growth due to experiences. You can discuss these questions below with students when focusing on characters. (These questions will work for any book–not just mine. )
- How is the character different at the end of the story than at the beginning?
- What events happen in the book to help the character change?
- Does the character change for the better or for worse? Explain!
- Why do you think the character changed?
- Can you think of a time in your life when you might have changed like this character did?
You would probably focus mostly on these questions during reading, but remind students of the answers when they are writing their own fiction stories.
For more information on Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, please see this page.