Point of View Teaching: Tips for Literature Educators
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Define point of view
  2. Types of point of view
  3. How to teach first-person point of view
  4. How to teach second-person point of view
  5. How to teach third-person point of view
  6. Activities for teaching point of view
  7. Point of view lesson plan
  8. Assessment ideas for point of view
  9. Resources for teaching point of view
  10. Why point of view matters in literature

Every literature teacher knows the excitement and challenge of teaching point of view in literature. It's a bit like teaching someone to see the world through different lenses—each one offering a unique perspective. That's exactly what we're going to explore today.

Define point of view

Now, first things first, let's get our definitions straight. When we say "point of view" in literature, we're talking about the narrator's position in relation to the story being told. Think of it like this: if the story was a movie, the point of view would be where the camera is placed. It shows us who is telling the story and how it is being told. Breaking it down:

  • First-person: The story is narrated by a character in the story, typically using "I" or "we". It's like the character is talking directly to you. Example: "I walked down the street."
  • Second-person: The narrator addresses the reader directly using "you". It's like you're being directly involved in the story. Example: "You walk down the street."
  • Third-person: The story is told from an outside perspective, typically using "he", "she", "it", or "they". The narrator isn't a character in the story. Example: "He walked down the street."

Got it? Great! Now we're ready to dive into the nitty-gritty of teaching point of view in literature.

Types of point of view

So, now that we have a basic understanding of what point of view means in literature, let's take a closer look at its types. Each type of point of view offers its own unique perspective and understanding of the story's events, characters and themes. This can significantly change a reader's experience and interpretation of the text. Here's a breakdown:

  • First-Person Singular: This point of view is all about the "I" perspective. The narrator is a character in the story, sharing their personal experiences and feelings. It's like reading someone's diary—you get insight into their thoughts and emotions. A classic example is "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, where Scout narrates her experiences.
  • First-Person Plural: This is the "we" perspective. It's less common, but when used effectively, it can create a sense of unity, or alternatively, a feeling of mob mentality. An example of this is "The Virgin Suicides" by Jeffrey Eugenides.
  • Second-Person: This is the "you" perspective. It's a tricky one to pull off because it directly involves the reader in the story. It's used to great effect in "Bright Lights, Big City" by Jay McInerney.
  • Third-Person Limited: Here, the narrator is outside the story and focuses on the thoughts and feelings of one character. It's like over-the-shoulder camera work in a film. "Harry Potter" by J.K. Rowling is a good example, where we mostly see the world from Harry's perspective.
  • Third-Person Omniscient: This is the all-knowing perspective. The narrator knows and can reveal what all characters are thinking and feeling. It's like a bird's eye view of everything happening in the story. Classic literature, like "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen, often uses this perspective.

While teaching point of view in literature, it's important to help students understand these different types, as each brings a unique flavor to the narrative. In the next sections, we'll dive into how to teach each of these points of view effectively.

How to teach first-person point of view

Teaching the first-person point of view in literature is a fun and engaging process. The key is to emphasize its personal and introspective nature. Here are some steps to help you guide your students through it:

  1. Start with examples: Begin by providing examples of first-person narratives from popular and accessible books. This could be an excerpt from "Percy Jackson & the Olympians" by Rick Riordan or "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. Ask your students how they know it's written in first-person point of view. The use of pronouns like 'I', 'me', and 'my' are usually the biggest giveaways.
  2. Discuss the benefits: Talk about why an author might choose to use first-person point of view. This could be to build a direct connection between the reader and the main character, or to provide an intimate look into the character's thoughts and feelings.
  3. Identify the limitations: It's equally important to discuss the limitations of the first-person point of view. This could include a lack of objectivity, or the fact that the reader only knows what the narrator knows, which could be limited or biased.
  4. Practice, practice, practice: Have students practice writing their own short stories or diary entries in the first-person point of view. This will help them better understand the nuances of this perspective and how to use it effectively in their own writing.

Remember, the goal of teaching point of view in literature is not just to recognize it, but to understand why an author chooses a particular point of view and how it affects the story. So don't shy away from deep discussions and critical thinking exercises!

How to teach second-person point of view

While the second-person point of view isn't as common in literature, it offers a unique perspective that can be quite engaging for readers. Let's break down how you can teach this to your students.

  1. Introduce with examples: Begin by presenting examples of second-person narratives from literature. A great example is "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Numeroff. In these passages, the author speaks directly to the reader using pronouns like 'you', 'your', and 'yours'.
  2. Discuss its effect: The second-person point of view places the reader in the story, almost like a choose-your-own-adventure book. Discuss how this makes the reader feel more involved and engaged in the story.
  3. Highlight the challenges: While the second-person point of view is engaging, it can also be challenging to write because it requires the author to make assumptions about the reader. Discuss these challenges with your students, and how an author can navigate them.
  4. Put it into practice: Encourage students to try writing their own short stories in the second-person point of view. This will give them a chance to experiment with this perspective and understand how it can change the reader's experience.

Teaching the second-person point of view is an excellent opportunity to explore unique narrative structures and engage your students in creative writing exercises. So, dive in and enjoy the process!

How to Teach Third-Person Point of View

Now let's take a look at the third-person point of view, which is arguably the most frequently encountered perspective in literature. Here's how you can simplify this concept for your students.

  1. Define it clearly: The third-person point of view refers to a narrative style where the narrator is not a part of the story. They use pronouns like 'he', 'she', 'it', or 'they' to refer to characters. It's like watching a movie and telling someone else what's happening on the screen.
  2. Break it down: There are three types of third-person point of view—third-person objective, third-person limited, and third-person omniscient. Each gives the narrator a different level of knowledge about the characters' thoughts and feelings. Make sure your students understand these differences.
  3. Use relatable examples: Pick popular novels that use third-person point of view, such as "Harry Potter" by J.K. Rowling. Pointing out examples in books they love will make the concept stick much better.
  4. Let them practice: Have them write a short story in third-person point of view, focusing on choosing whether the narrator knows everything, some things, or only what is visible to the eye.

Remember, teaching point of view in literature is all about making abstract concepts relatable to your students. So, don't shy away from using their favorite books or even TV shows to illustrate your points. Who said learning can't be fun?

Activities for Teaching Point of View

Alright, now that you've got the basics down, let's talk about fun and engaging ways to teach point of view in literature. Here are few activities that you can easily incorporate into your lesson plans.

  1. Guess the Point of View: Start with short, anonymous excerpts from various books. Have your students identify the point of view used in each. They'll have fun guessing and you'll get to see how well they've understood the concepts.
  2. Switch it Up: Take a paragraph from a book, like "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien, and have students rewrite it from a different point of view. This helps them understand how changing the point of view can alter the tone and perception of the story.
  3. Point of View Journal: Encourage your students to maintain a journal where they write entries from different points of view. One day, they could write as themselves (first-person), the next as a friend (second-person), and then as an invisible observer (third-person).
  4. Role Play: This one is always a big hit! Assign each student a character from a book you're studying and have them act out a scene, emphasizing their character's point of view. Don't forget to discuss it afterwards!

These activities aren't just about teaching point of view in literature—they're also about fostering a deeper understanding of how we perceive and interpret stories. So, are you ready to shake up your literature lessons?

Point of View Lesson Plan

Creating a lesson plan for teaching point of view in literature may seem like a daunting task, but worry not, I've got your back. Here's a simple, yet effective plan that you can modify to suit your needs.

  1. Introduction: Start your lesson by defining what point of view is in literature. Use simple, everyday scenarios to explain the concept. For instance, you can talk about how a soccer game might be described by a player, a spectator, and a commentator.
  2. Teach the Types: Next, introduce the different types of point of view: first-person, second-person, and third-person. Provide examples from popular books for each type.
  3. Group Activity: Divide your students into groups and assign each a different point of view. Give them a common scenario and let them write a short story from their assigned point of view.
  4. Discussion: After the groups have presented their stories, initiate a discussion. How did the same event feel different when told from different perspectives? This is a great way to solidify their understanding of the concept.
  5. Individual Work: As a homework assignment, have students pick a favorite book or movie and write a short essay on the point of view used, and how it affects the story.

Remember, the goal isn't just to teach a new concept—it's to inspire a new way of looking at stories. With this lesson plan, you're well on your way to doing just that. Happy teaching!

Assessment Ideas for Point of View

So, you've successfully taught point of view in literature. Now, how do you know your students have really grasped the concept? Well, it's time for some assessment. Here are some ideas to gauge your students' understanding:

  1. Multiple Choice Quiz: This is a classic approach. You can design a quiz where students have to identify the point of view from a given excerpt of text. It's a quick and easy way to measure understanding.
  2. Short Story Analysis: Ask your students to choose a short story and analyze the point of view used. They should write an essay explaining why the author might have chosen this perspective and how it impacts the story.
  3. Creative Writing: Assign your students to write a short story from a specific point of view. This will not only test their understanding but also improve their writing skills.
  4. Class Presentation: Have your students present a book or movie, discussing the point of view used, and engaging the class in a discussion. This can be a fun and interactive way to assess understanding.

The key to effective assessment is variety. By using different methods, you'll get a more rounded understanding of how each student is absorbing the material. Now, you're all set to assess your students' understanding of point of view in literature. Happy assessing!

Resources for Teaching Point of View

Teaching point of view in literature can be challenging, but thankfully, you're not alone in this. Here are some resources that can make the task easier and more effective:

  1. Literature Textbooks: Your school's literature textbooks are your first stop. They often have dedicated sections to teach point of view in literature with relevant examples.
  2. Online Teaching Platforms: Websites like Khan Academy, Scholastic, and Edutopia provide a wealth of resources, including lesson plans, interactive exercises, and video tutorials.
  3. Children's Books: Sometimes, the best way to teach a complex concept is to simplify it. Children's books often use clear and distinct points of view. They can be a great resource for teaching point of view in literature, especially for younger students.
  4. Classic Novels: Classic novels offer a wide range of perspectives, from first to third person. Using these as part of your teaching materials can provide real-world examples and make the lessons more engaging.

Remember, the aim is to make lessons engaging and relatable. Your resources should reflect this. So, take a deep breath, gather your teaching materials, and let's help students understand the fascinating world of narrative perspectives.

Why Point of View Matters in Literature

Now, you may be wondering, "Why do we even bother teaching point of view in literature?" Well, it's more important than you might think.

Firstly, point of view shapes the way we interpret a story. It's like the lens through which we see the world of the characters. A different point of view can turn a familiar story on its head, giving us fresh insights and new understandings.

Take the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, for example. Told from Red's point of view, it's a cautionary tale about the dangers of straying off the path. But imagine how the story would change if told from the wolf's point of view! Suddenly, we're presented with a creature struggling to survive and feed itself — a very different narrative indeed.

Secondly, understanding point of view helps students develop empathy. By stepping into the shoes of different characters, they learn to understand their thoughts, feelings, and motivations. This skill isn't just important for understanding literature; it's a vital life skill that helps us connect with people from all walks of life.

So, teaching point of view in literature isn't just about ticking off a box on the curriculum — it's about shaping thoughtful, empathetic individuals. Now, that's a lesson worth teaching, don't you think?

If you're a literature educator looking for innovative ways to teach point of view, don't miss the workshop 'A New Perspective on Perspective' by Roberto Bernal. This workshop offers valuable insights and techniques that will help you engage your students in understanding different perspectives in literature and enhance their critical thinking skills.