My students are generally pretty perceptive when it comes to interpreting the motives and behaviors of characters. What they lack is an adequate vocabulary to appropriately describe the characters. I have used this list to help my students advance their character trait vocabularies, and I hope that it will help you too. Here is a list of mostly challenging character trait words. Some of these words are easily understood by most English language speakers; however, most of these words are challenging and unfamiliar to students. Use this list to help your students expand their character trait vocabulary.
Common Core State Standards Related to Characterizations
View All CCSS Standards Related to Characterizations
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3 – Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.3 – With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.3 – Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.3 – Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.7 – Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.3 – Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.3 – Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3 – Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3 – Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.3 – Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3 – Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3 – Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3 – Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).