Animals are Characters Unit

Animals are Characters, Too:  Characters who Gallop, Bark, and Squeak

This eight-week unit invites students to compare how animals, especially horses, dogs, and mice, are portrayed in fiction and nonfiction texts.
Students examine character development in depth by focusing on how animals and their traits are personified in literature and film.

The teacher may choose to have students read varied texts about the same animals to facilitate a whole-group discussion, or to encourage students to read in small groups about different animals and compare and contrast what they learn about animal character development.

Students choose an animal to research, comparing the research with humanly portrayed animals in literature. After reading selections from Scranimals by Jack Prelutsky or from The Book of Nonsense

Download version from Gutenberg Project


This site provides a biography of both Anna Sewell and her mother. They were both writers of juvenile fiction.


Anna Sewell's novel about a horse named Black Beauty touched a responsive chord in readers of many ages when it was first published in 1877. It remains a classic novel, one that speaks to contemporary readers as well.
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With All the Original Pictures and Verses.

The Animal Inquiry graphic organizer invites students to explore four facets of animals [basic facts, animal babies, interaction with others, and habitats (shown at left)]; the possibilities for extensions or adaptations, moreover, make this a a nice complement with inquiry-based projects. The follow-up writing prompts can be used to organize research questions as well as to record findings.
DiCamillo often writes about animals, such as the title characters in Mercy Watson to the Rescue, Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, and The Tiger Rising
The Stapleless Book is designed to allow users to create with ease an eight-page book simply by folding and cutting. No tape or staples are required. Students and teachers alike can use the Stapleless Book for taking notes while reading, making picture books, collecting facts, or creating vocabulary booklets. Students can choose from seven different layouts for the pages of their books.
Funny animal limericks were common years ago, but it was less common to create a sequence of these limericks into a story. The Erratic Rat is a very short story, true, but it shows the whimsical, silly, imaginative flavors from this clever era.