Voice

Voice in writing:

  • Communicates the author’s point of view
  • Exposes the author’s personality or style
  • Communicates the author’s purpose to the audience
  • Comes across as being honest or “from the heart”
  • Shows the author’s wit, sense of humour, spirit
  • Sounds like the author and no one else
  • Has a particular tone such as formal, informal, upbeat, depressing, friendly, hostile, sarcastic, ironic, objective, comedic
  • Has a particular pattern such as sentence length, rhythm, word choice, repetition, structure, favourite words

 Voice and its connection to Critical Literacy

    1. When we read literature that has a distinct voice, or write using a distinct voice it challenges the way we perceive the world. Critical literacy disrupts common understanding to gain perspective.
    2. When we read literature that has a distinct voice, or write using a distinct voice we examine multiple viewpoints. Critical literacy makes us think about different perspectives.
    3. When we reflect on an author’s voice, it helps us evaluate the purpose of writing and consider who is being spoken to and who isn’t

 Some examples of Voice:

Amused

Angry

Bitter

Condescending

Demanding

Energetic

Excited

Frustrated

Hesitant

Hyperactive

Impatient

Lethargic

Meek

Motherly

Nervous

Ponderous

Quizzical

Sad

Scared

Silly

Sweet

Sweet

Sycophantic

Tired

Whiny

Worried

Fun ways to find our voice:

  1. Find examples of writing that demonstrate voice. They should be examples where we can hear the author’s unique personality coming out through his/her words. Talk about why these examples are successful.
  2. Visit http://masters-of-photography.com/ and view one of the famous photographs depicting people. As a pre-writing activity, ask your students to answer questions like, “What is this person thinking?” or “If this person were to speak, what might he or she say?” or “If this person spoke to you, what would his/her voice sound like?”
  3. Try saying the same sentence “You’ve got something in your teeth,” in different voices. What would you sound like if you said the sentence in a bossy voice? How would it sound if your voice was supportive? Now try writing out the sentence so that another person reading the sentence aloud would say it in a bossy or supportive way.
  4. Try writing about a subject that you feel strongly about. Use words that describe your feelings.
  5. Before you write, say your sentences out loud. Do they sound like you or could they be anyone? What would you have to add to your writing that might make someone recognize it as you and no one else?
  6. Write in the style of someone else’s voice (write like Bart Simpson, Dr. Seuss or a cowboy from an old Western movie)
  7. Write about a topic that you find bewildering (example: write like a religious person if you are non-religious)
  8. Write to help yourself solve a problem.
  9. Write something as if your toughest critic is looking over your shoulder. Write something that would shock that person.
  10. Write about something that scares you. If you write about things that make you feel uncomfortable, things that make you sweat, you will find that these topics tend to bring out your inner voice.
  11. Write as if you were talking to a particular person or thing (Lady Gaga, a gravestone, a broken umbrella, a red ribbon)

Barbara Mariconda’s Excellent Advice on Teaching Voice 

Mariconda’s website “EmpoweringWriters.com” has many wonderful writing resources for teachers. Mariconda makes the distinction that the term “author’s voice” has no place in narrative writing and goes on the explain why.

Barbara Mariconda is the author of over 20 children’s books and numerous professional books for teachers. Her middle grade novel, “Turn the Cup Around” published by Delacorte Press was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award by the Mystery Writers of America for best children’s mystery. Her latest, a picture book titled “Sort it Out,” was published by Sylvan Dell Publishing in the fall of 2008. She has presented programs on writing to thousands of teachers at workshops and conferences across North America.

Examples of primary, junior and intermediate books used to teach voice:

  • Abeel, Samantha – Reach for the Moon
  • Ahlberg, Janet – The Jolly Postman
  • Angelou, Maya – Life Doesn’t Frighten Me
  • Bauer, Marion Dane – On My Honor
  • Baylor, Byrd – Desert Voices
  • Bloor, Edward – Tangerine
  • Bradby, Marie – More Than Anything Else
  • Branzei, Sylvia – Grossology Begins At Home:  The Science of Really Gross Things in Your Everday Life
  • Brooks, Bruce – Predator!
  • Brutschy, Jennifer – Winter Fox
  • Bunting, Eve – A Day’s Work
  • Bunting, Eve – Dandelions
  • Bunting, Eve – Fly Away Home
  • Bunting, Eve – I Don’t Want to go to Camp
  • Bunting, Eve – Smoky Nights
  • Bunting, Eve – The Wall
  • Bunting, Eve – The Wednesday Surprise
  • Bunting, Eve – Train to Somewhere
  • Burdett, Lois – A child’s Portrait of Shakespeare
  • Burdett, Lois – Macbeth for Kids
  • Burdett, Lois – Twelfth Night for Kids
  • Cannon, Janell – Stellaluna
  • Carlson, Nancy – A Visit to Grandma’s
  • Ceisk, Teresa – The Fourth Little Pig
  • Chief Seattle – Brother Eagle, Sister Sky
  • Coerr, Eleanor – Sadako
  • Coles, Robert – The Story of Ruby Ridges
  • Curry, Boykin and Brian Kasbar – Essays That Worked:  50 Essays from Successful Applications to the Nation’s Top Colleges
  • Curtis, Christopher Paul – The Watsons go to Birmingham
  • Curtis, Jamie Lee – Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day
  • Dahl, Roald – The Twits
  • Datlow, Ellen & Terri Windling – A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales
  • Doreen Cronin-Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type
  • Dr. Seuss – My Many Colored Days
  • Dugan, Barbara – Loop the Loop
  • Edwards Pamela Duncan – Barefoot:  Escape on the Underground Railroad
  • Ehrlich, Amy – When I Was Your Age
  • Emberley, Michael – Ruby
  • Feelings, Tom – Soui Looks Back in Wonder
  • Feelings, Tom – The Middle Passage
  • Fiffer, Sharon Sloan and Steve Fiffer – Home
  • Fleischman, Paul – Bull Run
  • Gantos, Jack – Jack’s Black Book
  • Gobie, Paul – The Gift of the Sacred Dog
  • Gottlieb, Dale – Seeing Eye Willie
  • Granowsky, Alvin – Henny Penny/Brainy Bird Saves the Day
  • Grutman, Jewel H. & Gay Matthaei – Julia Singing Bear
  • Hall, Donald – I am the Dog, I am the Cat
  • Harper, Isabelle – Our New Puppy
  • Harris, Christine – Oliver All Alone
  • Hathorn, Libby – Way Home
  • Hegg, Tom – Peef the Christmas Bear
  • Henkes, Kevin – Julius, the Baby of the World
  • Hesse, Karen – Out of Dust
  • Hest, Amy – The Private Notebook of Katie Robert, Age 11
  • Hill, Anthony – The Burnt Stick
  • Hobbie, Holly – Toot and Puddle
  • Houston, Gloria – Little Jim’s Gift
  • Jiminez, Francisco – La Mariposa
  • Johnson, Paul Brett – Lost
  • Johnston, Tony – The Cowboy and the Black-Eyed Pea
  • Joose, Barbara M. – The Morning Chair
  • Kachenmeister, Cherryl – On Monday When It Rained
  • Kardong, Don – Hills, Hawgs & Ho Chi Minh: More Tales of a Wayward Runner
  • Kimmel, Erick- Anansi and the Talking Melon
  • Kramer, Stephen – Caves
  • Leavitt, Melvin J. – A Snow Story
  • Lennon, John – Real Love: The Drawings for Sean
  • Little, Jean – Hey World, Here I Am!
  • Littlechild, George – This Land is my Land
  • Louie Ai-Ling – Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story From China
  • MacLaughlan, Patricia – All the Places to Love
  • MacLaughlan, Patricia – What You Know First
  • Martin, Ann M. – Leo the Magnificat
  • Masson, Jeffrey Moussaieff – The Emperor’s Embrace: Reflections on Animal Families and Fatherhood
  • Mattaei, Gay – The Ledgerbook of Thomas Blue Eagle
  • McBratney, Sam – Guess How Much I Love You
  • McKissack, Patricia C. – Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters
  • Miles, Calvin – Calvin’s Christmas Wish
  • Murphy, Jim – The Boy’s War:  Confederate and Union Soldiers Talk About the Civil War
  • Palatini, Margie – Piggie Pie!
  • Pallota-The Frog Alphabet Book
  • Park, Barbara – Mick Harte Was Here
  • Patterson, Dr. Francine – Koko’s Kitten
  • Paulsen, Gary – Harris and Me
  • Paulsen, Gary – Puppies, Dogs, and Blue Northers:  Reflections on Being Raised by a Pack of Sled Dogs
  • Paulsen, Gary – Soldier’s Heart
  • Paulson, Tim – The Beanstalk Incident
  • Penn, Audrey – The Kissing Hand
  • Pinkwater, Daniel – Manus Big Orange Splot
  • Polacco, Patricia – Luba and the Wren
  • Polacco, Patricia – Mrs. Katz and Tush
  • Polacco, Patricia – Pink and Say
  • Polacco, Patricia – Thank You, Mr. Falker
  • Polacco, Patricia – The Butterfly
  • Ringgold, Faith – Tar Beach
  • Robinson, Aminah Brenda Lynn – A Street Called Home
  • Robinson, Barbara – The Best School Year Ever
  • Ross, Jim – Dear Oklahoma City Get Well Soon
  • Rylant, Cynthia-The Day the Relatives Came
  • Sacher, Louis-Wayside School is Falling Down
  • San Francisco Writerscorps – Same Difference:  Young Writers on Race
  • Say, Allen – Emma’s Rug
  • Scieszka, Jon – Math Curse
  • Scieszka, Jon – The Frog Prince
  • Scieszka, Jon – The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
  • Scieszka, Jon – The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs
  • Selway, Martina – Wish You Were Here
  • Shannon, David – David Goes to School
  • Shannon, David – No, David!
  • Shorto, Russell – Cinderella:  The Untold Story
  • Sim, Dorrith – In My Pocket
  • Starbright Foundation Staff – The Emperor’s New Clothes:  An All-Star Illustrated Retelling of the Classic Fairy Tale
  • Steig, William – Grown-Ups Get to Do All the Driving
  • Steptoe, John – Creativity
  • Stock, Catherine – Thanksgiving Treat
  • Thaler, Mike – The Teacher From the Black Lagoon
  • Tolhurst, Marilyn – Somebody and the Three Blairs
  • Trivizas, Eugene – The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig
  • Tunnell, Michael O. – The Children of Topaz
  • Turner, Ann – Dakota Dugout
  • Turner, Ann – The Christmas House
  • Turner, Ann- Red Flower Goes West
  • Viorst, Judith – Alexander Who’s Not Going to Move
  • Vos Wezeman, Phyllis – Benjamin Brady’s Backyard Bug
  • Wells, Rosemary – The Language of Doves
  • Wild, Margaret – Toby
  • Wisniewski, David – Tough Cookie
  • Wojciechowski, Susan – The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
  • Wright, Betty Ren – The Cat Next Door
  • Yolen, Jane – Sleeping Ugly

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