Have you ever noticed how challenging it is for kids to punctuate dialogue correctly? (Let’s be honest… there are many adults who have this problem too!) I’m not in favor of utilizing grammar worksheets to teach this to kids since that doesn’t get them to really notice how real authors do it. Sure, they can correctly punctuate a few sentences on the worksheet, but it rarely transfers over to their own writing. Rather, I advocate for pointing out how dialogue goes by looking at the way authors punctuate dialogue in books kids are reading.
You can have kids notice and develop theories about why authors punctuate dialogue in particular ways in any book they’re reading. For instance, take a popular series like Olivia. In the newest Olivia Book, Olivia Opens a Lemonade Stand, there are many examples of when to use a comma versus ending punctuation inside of the quotation marks. Here are some examples from the text:
Additionally, many of the pages in this book (like the first image above) include interesting dialogue tags beyond the word said. Therefore, you can also teach students how to vary the dialogue tags they use by noticing the variety of dialogue tags authors use when they’re reading books.
Here are some other posts about dialogue, which Ruth and I have written in the past:
A review copy of this book was provided by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.