Although teachers often use the terms point of view and perspective interchangeably, there are differences.
The point of view focuses on who is the narrator of the story.
- Is the narrator the protagonist telling his or her story?
- Is there an all-seeing narrator that knows what is taking place with many characters?
- Does the narrator follow one character or many?
Perspective, on the other hand, focuses on how the narrator tells the story.
- Which character is communicating?
- How does this character feel about things that are taking place or the other characters in the story?
Common Core State Standards
Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.
Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.
Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.
FREE Teaching Ideas and Printables for Teaching Perspective
The first thing that comes to mind when I begin planning a lesson on perspective is an activity that took place in a psychology class I was taking in college. It was an entry-level class with an auditorium full of students. In the middle of the lecture, a guy ran down one aisle across the front of the room and up the other aisle before leaving. He shook his fist, yelled out, jumped up and down, and several other off-the-wall gestures. The event was fast – just a minute or two. The professor stopped his lecture and had the students write a description of the event. Next students shared their descriptions in small groups. It was amazing how different the descriptions were.
After this, the “strange fellow” re-entered the auditorium. He had actually been a planned part of the lesson. Students compared the physical descriptions to the actual appearance of the guy. The point of the lesson was that when emotions are involved people react and “see” the same situation differently.
The lesson has stayed with me. Although I haven’t actually recreated this in the classroom, I have wondered if there was a way to have a “less scary” version…a clown, a person dressed up in an animal suit, or something similar. I feel this activity would make students stop and think – creating great discussions. It is also a great way to include a parent volunteer.
What Do You See Pictures?
Introduce a lesson on perspective by showing “What do you see?” illustrations. I have included these three from the public domain in the pdf for you to use.
This sample from my Using Animated Shorts to Teach Reading and Writing Skills Series pairs with the short film Oktapodi. Students watch the video and then complete the handout which is provided on perspective.
Books for Teaching Perspective
- Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
- Voices in the Park by Anthony Brown – This story tells about the same walk in the park from four different perspectives.
- They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel – A bee, fox, and child tell how they see the cat.
- The Cat Who Lived with Anne Frank by David Lee Miller and Steven Jay Rubin
- Wonder R.J. Palacio
- Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
- The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
These novels alternate perspectives in different chapters. Often the same event is repeated from the perspective of a different character.
Fractured Fairy Tales
- The Wolf Story: What Really Happened to Little Red Riding Hood by Toby Forward (The story is told from the perspective of the wolf.)
- The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka (The story is told from the perspective of the wolf.)
- Josh Funk’s It’s Not a Fairy Tale Series
- It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk
- It’s Not Hansel and Gretel
- It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood
(The characters in Josh Funk’s books do not like the way the narrator tells the story. They interject details to “correct” the narrator making laugh-out-loud moments. Reading a book featuring this unique perspective makes for a great lesson. Also, be sure to check out Josh Funk’s website for coloring pages. Downsize the pages leaving writing space to the side for students to write reactions to or answer questions about the story.)
Fables are terrific for perspective because they are short enough for students to easily rewrite the story twice from the perspective of each character. The only trick is to make sure the fable has 2 opposing characters.
Fables included in the printable.
- The Hare and the Tortoise
- The Lion and the Mouse
- The Town Mouse ad the Country Mouse
- The Fox and the Crow
- The Ants and the Grasshopper
Printables are included for these fables.