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Lighten Up!

I’ve read three new books recently that have brought a smile to my face — not to mention to the faces of all my family members (the 4, 6, and 8 year olds + my husband). Because of this, my husband and I have been asked to read them again and again and again. All this reading has made me think about using these books in Writing Workshop. Not only do they offer specific examples on how to add voice to writing, but they also offer a way to lighten up during the school day.

Pink Me Up by Charise Mericle Harper (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010) captures voice through:

  •  Using the name Daddy (Or, in more general terms, using the names the characters would call each other. Throughout the book you will also find: Mama, Silly, and Cousin Lilly.)
  • Changing the font of the dialogue, so the words look like a child’s writing.
  • Using punctuation. On the page below, notice the colon to cause the pause and the exclamation points in the dialogue.

 Check out this page from her book:

Credits: Alfred A. Knopf -- Pink Me Up by Charise Mericle Harper

Erroll by Hannah Shaw is another delightful book from Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. In this book, voice is captured through:

  • Changing the font. (Check out the page below and let your imagination run wild on the possibilities for teaching dialogue. Since the font changes with each speaker, it is a concrete way to teach the whole new paragraph with a new speaker rule.)
  • Including thoughts so the reader knows the “inside story” of each character.
  • Using specific action verbs. I’ve never thought about how this leads to voice, but it is evident in Erroll that the action verbs make the voice more vivid.

This page shows some of these strategies in action:

Credits: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010; Erroll by Hannah Shaw

Thingamabob by Il Sung Na (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008) is another light-hearted story which has a strong voice. Using this book alongside Erroll and Pink Me Up gives students another example of some of the strategies for adding voice to their writing, as well as gives another option:

  • Repetition. For example,  “He thought . . . Maybe I can fly with it. Maybe not. Maybe I can sail in it? Maybe not.” The repetition of the words and the structure add voice to the writing.
  • This text also shares the character’s thoughts.
  • Punctuation is used to add voice to the writing. Ellipse provide pause and a variety of ending punctuation is used.

I’d love to hear your favorite texts to teach voice, as well as feedback on using these three texts in your Writing Workshop.

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

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