Smack-Dab-in-the-Classroom: AVATAR--Using Middle Grade Books in the Classroom by author Dia Calhoun

Why did I devour books in middle school? Because I loved to imagine I was the book's hero/heroine--or sometimes another character. What fun it would be to have students adopt a character they admire as an Avatar, or secret identity, a character they want to emulate. For a day or a week, students could weigh their own actions/responses by thinking about what their chosen character might do in a similar situation. Here are a few examples:
  • A student must think her way out of a situation: He/she could ask: What would Violet do? (A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, Lemony Snicket)
  • A student needs to save someone he cares about who is feeling trapped. He/she could ask: What would Ivan do? (THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, Katherine Applegate)
  • A student needs courage. He/she could ask: What would Eckhart do? (AFTER THE RIVER THE SUN, Dia Calhoun)
  • A student must figure out something mysterious. He/she could ask: What would Zoomy do? (THE DANGER BOX, Blue Balliett)
  • A student is faced with a great temptation. He/she could ask what would Winnie do? (TUCK EVERLASTING Natalie Babbit) 
The student could then write an essay about his/her experience of living in the world from his/her admired character's point of view. I would have loved an assignment like this!


  1. This is fantastic. Especially love the use of the word "avatar."

  2. I would have eaten this up too! Great exercise.


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