Compare and Contrast Two or More Characters in a Story {Freebies Included}

I’m back for the next part of our character development lesson using Verdi by Janell Cannon. For this lesson, I will be sharing how we used the book to compare and contrast two or more characters in a story, drawing on specific details from the text.

Compare and Contrast Two or More Characters with FREEBIES! - Young Teacher Love by Kristine Nannini

To read the first blog post in this series, and to grab the free Inferring Character Traits Graphic Organizer, click HERE. To check out my other blog post series on character development, click HERE and HERE!

Since our last lesson on inferring character traits through dialogue, my students learned that there are a number of different ways that an author reveals information about a character in a text. An author reveals information about a character through:

  • physical traits (both explicit and inferred)
  • actions
  • thoughts
  • dialogue
  • interactions with other characters
Once my students had a solid understanding of characterization, we jumped right into comparing and contrasting. While rating and dating our understanding for our Student Data Tracking Binders, I quickly had students show me their level of understanding for comparing and contrasting. With a quick rate it/date it, I learned that my students had very little background knowledge on this concept. Not a big deal! A quick mini-lesson on comparing and contrasting did the trick!
With this anchor chart, we discussed the terms compare and contrast. I guided students with the idea that authors create relationships between characters, settings, and events in a text by developing the interactions among story elements. Good readers can identify the relationships between story elements by comparing and contrasting them.
While I love using venn diagrams, an even better tool (in my opinion) to compare and contrast in the upper grades is a double bubble thinking map.
The reason I like using a double bubble thinking map is because it requires a bit more depth of thought by the students. I love that contrasting requires students to think in terms of point and counterpoint. I promise you they are extremely easy to use!
Some guiding questions that students need to keep in mind in order to compare and contrast and to help them construct their double bubble maps include:
  • What are the similarities and differences between these two things?
  • How are these two things alike and different?
  • Which similarities do you think are most important?
  • Are there any details that are unique to one thing and not the other?
Even though the standard calls for students to also compare and contrast settings and events in a text, for this lesson we only focused on characters. After re-reading Verdi an additional time, we worked together to construct our double bubble thinking map.
Side note: color coding your double bubble thinking map is a great strategy for students that may need additional help, especially if this is the first time they are seeing it. I’ve included this as a freebie that you can grab at the end of this post. 
I think this is such a phenomenal visual that perfectly hits the standard on comparing and contrasting two characters.
Even though we worked together as a class to fill out this double bubble, students also filled out their own.

Once we filled out the double bubble thinking maps, as a formative assessment, students wrote their own written responses to compare and contrast the two characters.

You can grab this free formative assessment and a free double bubble thinking map at the end of this post!
This formative assessment is a great way to quickly gauge your students’ understanding of the standard.
Throughout the rest of the week, students used double bubble thinking maps to compare and contrast the characters in their own self-selected texts.
At the end of the week, I gave them their summative assessment to assess them on standard 5.RL.3 from my 5th Grade Common Core English Language Arts Assessments and Teaching Notes.
 I had to get an extreme closeup of this answer because I have to say, I am pretty impressed with their responses!
On top of that, my teacher heart skipped a beat when I saw this on a student’s reading passage! He was annotating the text without any prompting from me! Best day ever!

Check out these reading passages and assessments to use in your classroom HERE!

English Language Arts Assessments and Teaching Notes by Kristine Nannini

Grab a free copy of my Verdi formative assessment and color coded double bubble thinking map HERE!

Do you need more passages to help you teach character analysis? Check out my Characters: Differentiated Reading Passages and Questions resource. I provide teachers with 10 differentiated character reading passages. Each passage has five short answer questions for students to analyze characters. Click HERE or the button below to check them out. If you download the preview, you can see the entire resource.

Characters: Differentiated Reading Passages and Questions by Kristine Nannini

This resource is now bundled.

The first bundle includes 10 Fiction Differentiated Passages and Questions. Click HERE or the button below.

This bundle includes 20 total resources – 10 Informational Text and 10 Fiction Text Differentiated Passages and Questions. Click HERE or the button below.


  1. I too believe that the double bubble map is great for the upper grades. I usually have students color code the double map using different colors. I usually incorporate art blends into this. For example: I might do one set of differences in yellow, one set of differences in blue, and then the similarities would be in green to show that they are combined (similar). This is a great post! Thank you for taking the time to write such an informative post, and I will definitely be reviewing your blog posts as I plan for next year!

    1. Sheldon- I love your idea on color coding specific groups of differences! Thanks for sharing! Thank you also for your kind words!

  2. This looks great! I love using Verdi for character comparison. I also like to have students compare and contrast Verdi from the beginning of the book to the end.

    1. Thank you so much for you comments, Alicia! I agree that another great mini-lesson is character change! Isn’t it awesome when you come across such great mentor texts? It makes me so happy!! :)

  3. Very nice post! =) Your resources are always high-quality and BEAUTIFUL!! I came across you in my former blog life, when I was Now, I am Thank you for all you have done for the online education world. I showcased your weblog along with 11 others this evening here:: Have a wonderful rest of the weekend!

  4. Do you have another book that you would recommend instead of Verdi? I really like this lesson, but am petrified of snakes!

  5. I really want to commend you for supporting this thinking map. I have been teaching high school for almost 10 years and even students at this level need these graphic organizers.

    1. Kristine Nannini says:

      Thanks so much, Maria!

  6. Natalie Bonello says:

    Hi! I absolutely love your blog and resources! I am using your compare and contrast lesson with my students. I was wondering, how do you score the writing formative assessment piece?

    Thanks so much!

  7. andrea gerzetich says:

    What story is the greens from?

    1. Kristine Nannini says:

      Hi Andrea- The story is Verdi by Jannell Cannon.

  8. Stephanie says:

    I love your compare/contrast lesson! Do you have a title of a short text for formative assessment at a fourth grade level?

    1. Kristine Nannini says:

      Hi Stephanie- Thanks for your kind words! I am currently in the process of writing Differentiated Reading Passages and Questions for a number of different reading skills. I currently have passages and questions for making inferences, determining theme, and citing text evidence. I plan to create a set for comparing and contrasting characters. You can check them out here: Make sure you follow my store to receive an email notification when I post them. Thanks!

  9. Hi Kristine
    I hope you are doing great.
    I would like to thank you for your great efforts you did on your blog. Actually it helped me alot. Thanks again.


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