Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Creating Careers for Characters

6 - 8
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Three 50-minute sessions
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Students first explore resumes using the internet. They then work as a class to construct a sample resume for a character in a book they have all read. Next, they explore want ads and online job sites for possible jobs for a character from a book they have read on their own. They write a letter of application and create a resume for their character for the selected job.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

In this lesson, students read fictional works, use Internet resources, read and interpret classified ads, and write original resumes for a character they are exploring. Students rely on analytical skills to find material in their books that will support the job choice for their character. Teachers not only test student knowledge of plot and character descriptions but also have students learn the important skill of resume preparation and polishing, which will benefit them in their job or college application process.

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

Materials and Technology

  • Copies of the books that the students are reading

  • Internet access to appropriate sites

  • Word processor

  • Dictionary and thesaurus




  1. Before this lesson, students will read a book independently, in literature circles, or as a whole class.

  2. Ask students to bring copies of the books that will be the focus of their project to class for reference.

  3. Make copies or overheads of the sample character resumes and Careers for Characters Rubric.

  4. If desired, make copies or an overhead of the Purdue OWL resource Action Verbs to Describe Skills, Jobs, and Accomplishments in Employment Documents.

  5. Take some time to explore the Online Workshop: Resume, from Purdue OWL and Online Workshop: Cover Letter, from Purdue OWL sites so that you'll know how the site works and can demonstrate the parts of a resume and cover letter for students. Additional information on professional writing can be found at The Owl at Purdue: Workplace Writers.

  6. Test the Letter Generator and Writing Resumes for Fictional Characters student interactives on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tools and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • apply direct and indirect information about a character, noting the context of the reference and the reliability of the speaker.

  • shape information about the chosen character into a coherent format (the resume).

  • explore appropriate resume and job application techniques.

  • (optional) examine the way that word choice affects meaning by focusing on using strong, active verbs to describe the character's experience.

Session One

  1. Go over the components of a resume using the Online Workshop: Resume, from Purdue OWL and a letter of application using the Online Workshop: Cover Letter, from Purdue OWL. Invite students to explore the sites further on their own. The resources include sample resumes.

  2. Lead a class brainstorming session for details to include in a resume, based on a character in a work they have read, for example Lillian Wright from Asimov's "Rain, Rain, Go Away."

  3. Using the brainstormed ideas, lead a class discussion where you construct a sample resume. Distribute copies of the Careers for Characters handout to the class, and explain the assignment.

Session Two

  1. Use the Writing Resumes for Fictional Characters student interactive to highlight the requirements of character resumes assignment.

  2. Students choose a character from a self-selected novel or short story and list the character's talents, interests, and possible hobbies.

  3. They identify possible career choices for their characters by consulting such resources as the Purdue OWL Job Skills Checklist, O*Net Online, and the Indiana Career and Postsecondary Advancement Center Career Profiles Index. You may also use such library resources as the Worker Trait Group Guide, Chronicle Guidance Occupational Library, Career Discovery Encyclopedia, OCCU-FACTS, and so forth. Career exploration can continue as homework if desired. By the beginning of the next session, students should have identified the careers for their characters.

Session Three

  1. Students investigate the classified sections of local newspapers in order to select possible job prospects for their characters. Alternatively, students can search online job listings such as U.S. Government Job Announcements, Purdue Job Search on the Web Classifieds Index, or JobStar Central's Job Search Guide. For ideas about what types of careers might be suitable for their characters, see the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.

  2. The students cut out or print out the ad they've chosen for their characters, in order to turn the ads in with their resumes.

  3. Each student writes a letter of application, following business letter format, from the character to the company offering the job. If desired, students can use the Letter Generator to format and print their letters.

  4. Finally, the student completes a resume for the character. Any names, dates, or places must be connected to the plot or the setting of the literary piece.

  5. Type final versions of the two documents using a word processor. Alternatively, you have studednts continue work on their drafts for homework, asking them to submit their work at the beginning of the next session.


Based on student need and experience, you might add a mini-lesson that will help students strengthen their word choice. The Purdue OWL resource Action Verbs to Describe Skills, Jobs, and Accomplishments in Employment Documents provides a great list of strong, action verbs that are appropriate for resumes and job application correspondence. Demonstrate the process of revising for stronger word choice, using the list and modeling how to use the dictionary and thesaurus as necessary. Ideally, students should have dictionaries and thesauruses on hand as well. Divide students into small groups, and challenge them to add at least three action words to each person's resume. Students can revise and submit their documents at the end of class or the beginning of the next session.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Informal feedback from students who respond to the resumes and job application letters and then search out the related book is excellent feedback for students. You might make arrangements with your school library to display copies of the documents in a notebook. Students looking for something to read can then browse through the notebook for suggestions.

  • For more formal assessment, use the Careers for Characters Rubric.