Charles: Focusing on Literacy Skills [Summarizing]

Now that you have selected the IMPORTANT DETAILS from the short story, you are ready to connect them together to form your own SUMMARY of the text.  By rewriting the text keeping only the key details while omitting the unnecessary you will have a strong grasp of the ACTION in the text..


Charles: A Focus on Literacy Skills

Charles is a short story written by Shirley Jackson in 1948.  A full copy of the text can be READ HERE.  This SERIES will focus on all TEN KEY LITERACY SKILLS.  The lessons are arranged in SEQUENTIAL ORDER which builds a strong foundation before moving on to the next skill.

This series is an excellent way to BEGIN your class’s semester, ensuring everyone has a strong understanding of BASIC LITERACY SKILLS before you gradually release responsibility, asking them to put those skills into practice.

Explore other SHORT STORY LITERACY SKILLS ASSIGNMENTS for more ways to instruct your students.






When summarizing a text, you select only the MOST IMPORTANT pieces of information that are needed to communicate the author’s ideas.  This can be done by highlighting one sentence per paragraph, or a few sentences per page. By looking at the highlighted passages you may find you have already identified Main and Supporting details, which are required for a successful summary.

Summarizing a Paragraph

Below is a passage from Shirley Jackson’s short story Charles.  The IMPORTANT DETAILS have been underlined.  The example below shows how key details can be connected to form a new paragraph.  Note that the summary is written in plain sentences, avoiding unnecessary details while maintaining elements required to understand the passage.

Selected Passage

    On Saturday, I talked to my husband about it. “Do you think kindergarten is too disturbing for Laurie?” I asked him. “This Charles boy sounds like a bad influence.”
“It will be all right,” my husband said, “There are bound to be people like Charles in the world. He might as well meet them now as later.”

Summarized Example

Laurie’s mother asked her husband if he thought Charles’s bad influence made kindergarten difficult for Laurie.  Her husband said Charles would be fine as he’d meet people like that eventually.


Summarizing a Passage

Selected Passage

    On Monday of the third week, Laurie came home with another report. “You know what Charles did today?” he asked. “He told a girl to say a word, and she said it. The teacher washed her mouth out with soap, and Charles laughed.”

“What word?” his father asked.
“It’s so bad, I’ll have to whisper it to you,” Laurie said. He whispered into my husband’s ear.
“Charles told the little girl to say that?” he said, his eyes widening.
“She said it twice,” Laurie said. “Charles told her to say it twice.”
“What happened to Charles?” my husband asked.
“Nothing,” Laurie said. “He was passing out the crayons.”





Summarizing Page One

Return to your ANNOTATED short story.  Read through the FIRST PAGE once more and highlight FIVE more important SENTENCES and STAR one more important PARAGRAPH.  Now, look at your selected words, sentences, and paragraphs.

Use the self-selected details to summarize the first page on a separate sheet of paper.



What’s Next

Now that you have SUMMARIZED the first page of the text, you are prepared to use deepen your knowledge of the text by writing a VISUALIZING paragraph that draws upon the five basic senses.




Charles – WhatBinderDotCom – Literacy Skills – Summarizing.PDF






Charles: Literacy Skills Series












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