Good readers get the big picture. They comprehend the meaning of the text and
better understand what the author is trying to convey. In addition, learning to identify a character’s point of view in a simple picture book or story is a great way to introduce children to an important aspect of being a good reader.
It will also prepare them for heavier literature when they get older when identifying a character’s point of view is vital to understanding the plot and the underlying meaning or theme of the story. It is a skill to develop through the years, and having a basic working knowledge of this device will also help students learn about the first person, second person, third person, omniscient, and limited omniscient points of view as they mature as readers and writers.
Point of View (POV):
POV is simply the standpoint or position from which the reader gets to observe, consider, or ‘hear’ the story. For this particular article, I would like to concentrate on a first person narrative POV from a well-known children’s story.
A Simple Way To Teach POV:
Almost everyone knows the story of The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf. The pigs are the victims and the wolf is the villain. We ‘hear’ the story from the viewpoint of the three little pigs, and we feel sorry for them—right down to the hairs on their chinny-chin-chins! The wolf is a mean, evil character, and we are happy to see justice served in the end. Obviously, he deserves what he gets!
So gather your students around and read the traditional story of The Three Little Pigs. Or have them act out the story with parts—using appropriate voices and simple costumes if possible. My children always use a high, squeaky voice for the pigs and a low, growly voice for the wolf. Discuss the elements of the story and the perspectives of the characters. Who is ‘good’ and who is ‘bad’? Who is right and who is wrong? How did the pigs feel and react when the wolf came to each of their doors?
But what if there is a chance that the traditional tale we all know and love might not be the ‘real’ story! What if the wolf has a different version of the story to tell? What about his POV?
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs:
Here is where the fun begins! Purchase or check out Jon Scieszka’s hilarious book, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs from your local library and read it to the students. As Alexander T. Wolf, the narrator, tells his audience on the very first page:
“Everybody knows the story of the Three Little Pigs. Or at least they think they do. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. Nobody knows the real story, because nobody has ever heard my side of the story.”
Of course, in this version, we hear from Alexander T. Wolf. He claims that he had a cold and all that he wanted to do was borrow a cup of sugar from one of his neighbors when all the trouble began. According to him, he was framed!
Now discuss the differences in the two stories and the POVs. Compare and contrast. Make a comparison chart if possible.
So who is telling the truth, the pigs or the wolf? Who is more believable? Why? Should Alexander T. Wolf have been put in jail?
No matter whose side the students choose, they should all be able to determine the differences in the POV of the characters in the two tales and how it changes the whole story, depending on WHO is doing the telling or whose side is championed!
If you like using the idea of the Big Bad Wolf versus The Three Little Pigs to teach POV, you might also find the book, The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, by Eugene Trivizas to be another great resource to use with this lesson. As the title implies, the roles of the characters, as well as the POVs, have been switched. Another fun read!
Have students re-tell classic stories—but have them change the POV for some interesting twists.
Cinderella versus her stepsisters.
Little Red Riding Hood versus the wolf.
Goldilocks versus the three bears.
Scholastic’s site for fractured fairy tales and fables
Defendant Testifies: The Wolf’s side of the story
Literature guide to The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Nancy Polette
More fractured fairy tales