For many elementary students, the idea that other people have a different outlook on the world than their own view is pretty new! Kids tend to think everyone else sees things in the same way they do and that anyone who sees things differently is wrong.
Who is telling the story? How do they feel? What experiences might have shaped these feelings? Do I agree or disagree with this point of view?
In order to comprehend what they are reading, students need to be able to answer questions like these. In addition, they should also be able to compare and contrast their own perspective with that of the author or characters.
Below, you will find some of my best tips on how to help students begin to understand that other people have different points of view (or POV) and how to evaluate point of view when reading literature.
(Note: Before we go any further, let’s define “Point of View,” since there are many different interpretations. For the sake of this discussion, when I say “point of view,” I simply mean the perspective of the character: their mindset, opinion, and outlook.)
Why is POV so tricky?
As adults, we are aware that everyone has his/her own point of view based on a unique set of experiences and circumstances in life. This can be a really tricky concept for kids, though. They often don’t realize (or are just beginning to realize) that this is the case.
Kids are naturally very self-focused and tend to see their worldview as the only one (or at least the only right one). Helping students see that an author or character in literature has a different point of view from their own is an important first step.
Introducing this concept through literature is perfect because by reading about a character’s experiences, students get a first-hand account of the events that have shaped that character’s point of view. This will help them to understand how a character’s point of view can affect their actions.
Why does POV matter?
Point of view is important for a few reasons. First, kids need to recognize themselves as an observer of the story, and that they might disagree with opinions or actions of the characters. You won’t agree with everything you read, and that is okay!
Students also need to see that no one point of view is “right” or “wrong,” and know that understanding someone else’s point of view can help shape your own. You might suddenly understand why a person has such a different opinion than you do, and this can even change your opinion, and widen your own worldview.
Tip #1: Teach them to distinguish their own POV from that of the author or character. What parts do they agree with? What parts do they disagree with? This will help students begin to recognize that these different POVs exist.
Tip #2: Provide opportunities for students to read the same story from the perspective of different characters. This will bring to life the fact that the same story told from a different point of view may sound very different.
Tip #3: Next, you could try asking students to rewrite a story from different perspectives. If the whole class recently read “Little Red Riding Hood,” ask each student to rewrite the events from the POV of a different character.
Have kids read each other’s work and discuss the differences. This will open up a lot of rich discussion about how the point of view can differ from one character to the next.
If you are on the hunt for some point of view practice for your students, check out this Point of View Game Print and Digital, which includes 32 printable task cards, a printable game board, and a printable recording sheet.
Interactive PDFs are also included, in case you prefer to keep it digital!
Take a look at this Point of View Digital Reading for Google Slides for some more super engaging practice! Students are asked to distinguish between the author and characters points of view. It also asks kids to compare these to their own points of view, which is great practice!