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Explore-a-Story Graphic Character Journal
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Rooted in Language

Explore-a-Story Graphic Character Journal

Explore-a-Story Graphic Character Journal

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Regular price $18.00
Regular price Sale price $18.00
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When I ask my students to write about something they’ve read, they always end up retelling the story . . . 

Does this sound familiar? How do you help students practice analytical thinking and writing? If you feel stuck here, the Explore-a-Story Graphic Character Journal is the teaching tool you need! 

Your student will use their journal as a bridge between retelling and commenting — learning to engage in literary analysis in a simple, guided, and visible format! You’ll guide your students through the journal’s step-by-step process of character analysis, helping them capture their opinions and ideas on paper, all while exploring the literary concepts of setting, conflict, and theme. With each journal entry, your student’s confidence in their analytical skills will grow! They will begin to learn that the essence of analysis is writing their opinions. Now that’s a reason to write!

The Explore-a-Story journal targets three areas: deep comprehension (through close reading and abstract thinking), analytical writing skills, and multisensory student output. The book includes simple but effective drawing techniques designed to help kids ponder and expand, achieving more depth in their thoughts and their writing!

This fun and active resource can be used again and again with each literature study throughout the year, using strategies that work for students of all levels, including (and perhaps especially) those who struggle.

All Rooted in Language products incorporate research-based methods to support students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, developmental language disorders, and other literacy-based struggles.


To purchase Explore-a-Story in paperback instead of PDF, buy on Amazon.

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  • Grade level: 4 -12 (see FAQs regarding use with younger students; older students may use independently)
  • File count: 2 PDFs
  • Page count: 116 pages
  • Writing and drawing graphic journal for repeated use with any literature selection
  • Two layouts: 42 pages single-page journal template; 74 pages two-page journal template
  • Instructional content, sample journal entry, and drawing tips
  • One character journal template to create 23 different character analyses with any book or movie characters
  • Free download: 1 PDF (3 pages) Comprehension Instructional Guide that outlines an order of teaching for Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension in conjunction with Explore-a-Story Graphic Character Journal and more


Comprehension, writing, and drawing in conjunction with analysis of story characters and literary elements, including character, theme, conflict, and setting.

Stages of writing and drawing character analysis:

  1. Choose a character from any reading selection and identify features (movie characters also make for great analysis)
  2. Describe the character’s thoughts, feelings, and attitude
  3. Write the character’s desire and obstacle
  4. Add the character’s symbol and message
  5. Add the background and setting

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Explore-a-Story be used with younger students?

Explore-a-Story is designed for children who have acquired basic reading and writing skills (students must be able to write down original, sentence-level thoughts). Age-appropriate concepts included in Explore-a-Story are taught to younger students (K-2) in our Pinwheels and Wand programs. Early and repeated exposure to key literary elements promotes an appreciation for these concepts, and deepens comprehension skills in growing readers and writers. 

For educators of younger students, Explore-a-Story can be used as a resource to inspire modified and simplified lessons with young readers, using skill-appropriate literature and picture books.


Will Explore-a-Story help my student who struggles?

Yes. Struggling readers and writers need the following elements in order to be successful: explicit teaching, multisensory practice, and scaffolding. Explore-a-Story uses RiL’s Write-Draw-Think approach which is a prime example of all three of these key principles. Students are explicitly guided through the process of thinking deeply using both the mode of writing and the mode of drawing to reveal abstract ideas and original opinions. They are only asked to write in bits & pieces, a manageable, low-pressure strategy that gets even the most reluctant writers engaging and progressing. Explore-a-Story is one of our top teaching tools for students who struggle with reading comprehension and/or writing. 


What is the best way to print the Explore-a-Story PDF?

The Explore-a-Story single-page journal template layout can be printed as an 8½ x 11 single-sided or double-sided journal, then 3-hole punched, stapled, or spiral bound on the long/top edge.

The Explore-a-Story two-page journal template layout can be printed as an 8½ x 11 double-sided journal, then 3-hole punched, stapled, or spiral bound on the long/side edge.


I purchased the paperback version of Explore-a-Story on Amazon? Are there any supplemental resources to go with it?

Yes. Download the Comprehension Instructional Guide that outlines an order of teaching for Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension in conjunction with Explore-a-Story and more

Customer Reviews

Based on 4 reviews
Verified Amazon Review

I love Explore-a-Story so much that I purchased 4 copies - one for each of my children and one for me. Yes, I engage in deep character analysis right alongside my kids. We use this Graphic Character Journal to analyze characters in books and movies. My kids love bringing art and writing together. I love that the process is broken down into manageable stages so even the youngest writers or struggling learners are engaged… The more we practice deep character analysis through Explore-a-Story, the more my kids engage in deep discussions about the characters they encounter in their reading and t.v./movie watching. The benefits go far beyond the pages in this journal.

Amazon Review

As a former language arts teacher and elementary school administrator I am excited about this systematic way to help students develop writing and thinking skills. For students who love to doodle and love to draw, this thorough approach to character development is an excellent way to motivate students to think and write well. I will be purchasing copies of this book for all my grandchildren.

mommy4D, Amazon Review

We bought this product long ago before it was in book format. We have used it for many books and as a homeschool parent I loved that I could use it across a wide age range. I especially liked the stick figure drawing tips as well as the ability to really get to the core of the characters with bits & pieces of writing. Very doable for kids for whom writing is a great effort. Excellent higher level thinking skills activity.

Atlas, Amazon Review

I love Explore-a-Story! It engaged my son to spend a lot of time thinking about the character, getting into detail, and writing. Normally he hates to put pencil to paper, and I can't seem to come up with ways to inspire him.