Writing tools, like personification, can help you create more interesting and emotional sentences and paragraphs. By looking at examples of personification you'll get a better idea of what it is and how to use it in your own writing or recognize it when reading.
What Is Personification?
When you give an object or idea human behaviors, actions, or thoughts it is called personification. You are making the subject like a person even though it is not a person. Although it sounds a lot like anthropomorphism, in personification the object seems like it's human, but isn't actually doing something human. This form of figurative language is used most in poetry or descriptive writing. You can also use it in a report or essay as a way to engage the reader. This type of writing can help readers become connected to your subject.
Take a look at these examples and see if you can find the human quality and what object or idea it is being attributed to.
- The slide was calling my name.
- I kicked the soccer ball so hard it screamed all the way into the goal.
- As I read the book, its characters leapt off the page.
- Another day was ending, so the sun sulked down below the horizon.
- The grapes held tight to each other in a bunch, hugging for comfort and strength.
- The hungry flower leaned in to drink up the sunlight.
- The angry lighting hit the closest thing it could find.
Personification in Picture Books
Picture books and kids' poems are the perfect places to find examples of personification because authors and illustrators look for ways to make any object, place, or concept into a character with relatable human traits.
- The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt features a cast of crayons, each with a human problem. The peach crayon is embarrassed because he is naked and the orange and yellow crayons are mad at each other.
- The human abilities of trying your hardest and never giving up are given to a train in The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. "She was a happy little train," says the narrator.
- In Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal the exclamation point feels like it doesn't fit in with the other punctuation marks. The main character is said to be "confused, flummoxed, and deflated."
- Author Jane Yolen describes the feelings of the characters by personifying the landscape in Owl Moon. The line "They sang out, trains and dogs, for a real long time," is a great example.
Personification in Movies
Children's movies are another place you can easily find examples of personification, especially in their song lyrics.
- In the song "A Whole New World" from the movie Aladdin, he sings: "When did you last let your heart decide?"
- "A dream is a wish your heart makes" is a line from the song of the same name in the movie Cinderella.
- In The Lion King, Timon says "When the world turns its back on you..."
- In the movie Moana, the title character sings the song "How Far I'll Go" featuring the line "See that line where the sky meets the sea it calls me."
Activities Using Personification
Test your literary skills by creating original examples of personification in your own writing or looking for examples in your everyday life.
Gather five to ten different random objects from around your house or classroom such as a spoon, tissue, flashlight, remote control, or pan. Place one object in front of the student and challenge them to write one sentence that personifies that object. As soon as they finish, swap out the first object for another and give the same challenge. Continue with as many items as you'd like. If you're working with a group of kids, have them pass their object to the right after every five minutes or so.
Unnatural Nature Walk
Take a walk around town, in your back yard, or on a hiking trail. As you walk, ask your child to share examples of personification using the natural world as inspiration. Stop and ask "What kind of emotion does that tree look like it's showing?" or "What human traits is the sky exhibiting today?" to help them get started. Kids can write down their examples in a nature journal then use them to write a poem or short story about the walk.
Make Anything Human
With personification you can make anything humanlike. The more examples you create and find, the more you'll understand this exciting literary device.