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The Life of Charles Dickens

To look at the positive legacy of Charles Dickens’ life and consider that we can all have a positive impact on the people we meet.

by Jude Scrutton

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To look at the positive legacy of Charles Dickens’ life and consider that we can all have a positive impact on the people we meet.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need access to the BBC animation about Charles Dickens:
  • True and false statements about Charles Dickens (see sections 3 and 4, see also the BBC animation). For example:
    Charles Dickens was born to a rich family.
    Charles Dickens lived in a small house in London.
    Charles Dickens’ father was William Shakespeare. 
    Charles Dickens wrote Romeo and Juliet.
    Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist.


  1. Ask the children for the names of some famous authors. Make a list.

    Ask what they think are the most famous books/stories of all time (direct them to the Bible, the Harry Potter stories by J. K. Rowling, and if they don’t come up with it, ask them for some well-known Christmas stories – The Christmas Carol.)

    Introduce Charles Dickens as the English-born author of literary greats such as Oliver Twist, Bleak House, Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol.
  2. Who can be a writer? Do you have to be posh? Wealthy?

    Explain that you or anyone else can become a writer, regardless of how rich or poor you are, or where you are born, as long as you are determined, hardworking and creative.
  3. Ask children what they know about Charles Dickens.

    Project the pre-prepared ‘false and true’ statements (see ‘Preparation and materials’) and ask the children to sort out which are true and which are false.
  4. Click on the Internet link (see ‘Preparation and materials’), which is a short BBC animation for free use and tell the children to listen carefully to the story of Charles Dickens’ life.

    Check their answers to the true and false statements.

    Ask the children if they know why we are discussing Charles Dickens. Explain that 2012 is the 200-year anniversary of his birth: he was born on 7 February 1812).
  5. Explain that when people die they almost always leave things for other people. It may be money or possessions, or things they have done or made, or the memory of kind words and actions, or a good example. We call this a legacy. Almost everyone leaves a legacy, for good or bad, or a mixture of both good and bad.

    Ask the children what Charles Dickens’ legacy was. (All the fabulous stories.)
  6. Ask what Jesus’ legacy was. (No single right answer.)
  7. As long as you make an impact on someone’s life you have left a legacy. If we lead good, worthwhile lives and try to be the best we can be, then we will leave a good, positive legacy.

Time for reflection

What particular, positive legacy would you like to leave when you die?


Lord, help us to use our talents and qualities to do good

so that the world is better because we have lived.


The Lord’s Prayer


‘The wise may bring their learning’ (Come and Praise, 64)

Publication date: March 2012   (Vol.14 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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