We’ve given you tips for Strength Spotting in your classroom. Now, will you indulge us with another fun strength spotting exercise? While our favorite book characters may be fictional, they exhibit virtues, emotions, and strengths that teach us life lessons. 

This PBS Education article on the idea of windows and mirrors helps us understand the importance of both seeing ourselves in characters and recognizing strengths in characters who are very different from ourselves—and learning from them.   

Here are a few examples of our favorite fictional characters displaying signature character strengths and what we can learn from them to apply in our own lives.

Atticus Finch from
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 

Signature Strength: Fairness

Atticus Finch embodies the strength of fairness in his unwavering commitment to justice and equality. He defends Tom Robinson, an innocent Black man, despite his society’s deeply rooted racial prejudices. His actions, especially during the trial, reflect his belief that everyone deserves a fair chance, regardless of background or ethnicity. In the trial of Tom Robinson, Atticus says to the jury, “Our courts have their faults, as does any human institution, but in this country, our courts are the great levelers.” His words and actions during the trial showcase his belief that everyone deserves a fair chance, regardless of their race or background.

Hermione Granger from the
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Signature Strength: Love of Learning

Hermione Granger’s love of learning is evident throughout the series as she consistently values knowledge and education. Her dedication to studying, solving magical problems, and mastering spells showcases her innate curiosity and thirst for learning. She often takes the initiative to research and seek solutions to complex situations. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Hermione says, “I’m going to read all my books again and make some notes in case it’s asked about.”

Frodo Baggins from
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Signature Strength: Bravery

Frodo Baggins exemplifies bravery by accepting the daunting task of destroying the One Ring, which requires him to embark on a perilous journey to Mount Doom. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf says to Frodo, “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” to which Frodo responds, “So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Frodo’s determination to fulfill his mission despite the challenges showcases his resilience and bravery.

Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Signature Strength: Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence

Anne Shirley’s appreciation of beauty and excellence shines through her imaginative stories, her ability to find magnificence in the world around her, and her unique perspective on life. Her daydreaming and vivid descriptions showcase this as she paints pictures with words and embraces her imaginative spirit. In Anne of Green Gables, Anne describes her fascination with nature: “Look at that sea, girls – all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness anymore if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.” Her ability to find beauty and inspiration in the world around her reflects her spirit of appreciation and love of beautiful things.

Daunis Fontaine from Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Signature Strength: Zest 

One example of Daunis’ zest happens when she confronts a group of boys disrespecting her and her friend. In a small town gathering, Daunis and her friend are mingling with others when a group of boys starts making derogatory comments and jokes. Daunis, known for her strong personality, doesn’t back down. She stands up to the boys with a determined look and firmly addresses them. She challenges their behavior and calls out their inappropriate comments, refusing to let them belittle her or her friend. Whether it’s participating in an FBI investigation to help her Ojibwe community or standing up for her friends, Daunis approaches life energetically and wholeheartedly. 

Can you think of additional examples? Perhaps this is an activity you could use with your students to practice strength spotting characters in their independent reading books or together in your class book! 

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