Writing with Voice
Because there is a built-in audience with letter writing, it is a great way for students to practice writing with voice. Have students imagine that they are talking to the person they are writing to. What would they say to that person? What would they like to ask them? Be sure to model this in a modeled writing lesson first. Don’t forget to include read-alouds that are written in letter format.
- Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School by Mark Teague
- Dear Tooth Fairy by Pamela Duncan Edwards
- Journey of Oliver Woodman by Darcy Pattison
- The First Year Letters by Julie Dannegerg
- The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
- With Love, From Little Red Hen by Alma Flor Ada
- Yours Truly, Goldilocks by Alma Flor Ada
Point of View
Choosing an appropriate voice depends on who the narrator is. Having students write from another point of view can help them find their own voices. Have them pretend to be an object, animal, and eventually another person. Have them write from the object’s point of view. Ask questions such as: “Have you ever wondered what a leaf would say if it could talk?” “If you were a leaf, to whom would you talk?” “What would your voice sound like?” More ideas:
You are a _______. Tell about your life.
- A pencil talking to a piece of paper
- A computer talking to its owner
- A sock talking to a shoe
- A shoe talking to a hat
- A playground ball talking to some students
- A baseball talking to a bat
- A jump rope talking to a child
(from Trait-Based Mini-Lessons for Teaching Writing by Megan Sloan)
Model how to write from another point of view by reading aloud some of the following books.
- Cinderella’s Rat by Susan Meddaugh
- Dirty Laundry Pile: Poems in Different Voices by Paul Janeczko (ed.)
- Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose
- I Am the Dog, I Am the Cat by Donald Hall
- The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia
- The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
- Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg
- Wolf! by Becky Bloom
- Arnie the Doughnut by Laurie Keller
- Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne
- Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin
- My Big Dog by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel
Activity: Display a short excerpt of writing. Have students work in small groups to rewrite the piece, each group from a different character’s point of view.
One way to help students see the difference between writing with voice and writing without is to have them take a dry piece of writing (from a memo, manual, or textbook) and rewrite it, putting as much voice into it as possible. Try the opposite activity, too. Give students an excerpt of well-written literature and have them rewrite it without voice. This sharpens their awareness of voice because in order to remove the voice, students must first understand it.