Before you turn on your audiobook on the way to dance/karate/piano/co-op/errands, quiz your kids on these literary devices.
1. Verbal Irony – Occurs when someone says one thing but means the opposite.
2. Situational Irony – Occurs when what is expected to happen is different from what actually happens
Example: In the short story “The Gift of the Magi”, a woman sells her hair to buy a watch chain for her husband, but the husband has sold his watch to buy a comb for his wife.
3. Dramatic Irony – Occurs when the audience knows something that a character in the story does not
Example: In Romeo and Juliet, the audience is aware that Juliet is merely asleep in the tomb, but Romeo drinks the poison because he is unaware that she was only sleeping and not dead.
4. Dystopia – A fictional society that is unpleasant, unjust, and oppressive (though it may appear ideal at the outset)
Example: The society depicted in The Hunger Games
5. Foreshadowing – language that hints about events that will occur later in the story
Example: Little Red Riding Hood’s mother explicitly warns her daughter to stay on the path, foreshadowing the misfortune that occurs when Little Red Riding Hood strays from the path.
6. Dynamic Character – a character whose personality or attitude changes over the course of the story
Example: Luke Skywalker from Star Wars is a dynamic character because he overcomes both inner and external conflicts to become a Jedi.
7. Static Character – a character who essentially stays the same and does not experience significant inner change during the story
Yoda is a static character in Star Wars because his personality remains the same throughout the story.
8. Stock Character – a character who is stereotypical and easily recognized by readers because similar characters appear frequently in stories
Examples: the wicked witch, the selfish CEO, the dumb blonde
9. Personification – attributing human characteristics to non-human characters
Examples: a babbling brook, whispering wind, food that calls your name
10. Red Herring – an element introduced in the story to distract or confuse the reader
Example: In a crime novel, the author introduces a character who incorrectly seems to be the obvious perpetrator of the crime in order to prolong the suspense.