We talk a lot about voice in writing—is the voice authentic, does the author’s voice come through, is your dialogue strong and true to the character…
But, I would like to have you consider the story’s overall voice—the voice of the entire book that makes it special.
The books you that stick with you—from childhood, or that you just read but can’t get out of your mind—those books that you love most, are often ones with a unique story voice. This story voice can come from the tone of the story (Owl Moon’s voice is quiet) or the setting (Marvelous Cornelius’s story voice is informed by the rhythm of New Orleans). It can be happy or thoughtful, bouncy or quiet. The story voice informs the read aloud. Does your book have a story voice that makes the reader want to tap her foot (Jamberry) or lean in and whisper (Time for Bed)?
Owl Moon: by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr
Marvelous Cornelius: by Phil Bildner, illustrated by John Parra
Jamberry: by Bruce Degen
Time for Bed: by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jane Dyer
Think of your favorite books. How do you read them aloud? How do they make you feel? How would you characterize the voice? Here are some books I think have wonderful unique voices:
A Bouncy Voice: Just Add Glitter by Angela DiTerlizzi, illustrated by Samantha Cotterill
This book is exuberant and rhythmic in the very best way.
A Wistful Voice: Always Remember by Cece Meng, illustrated by Jago
This gentle book about death and what loved ones leave behind, makes you sigh in the reading of each page.
A Precocious Voice: One Word From Sophia by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail
Without aging the character of this book out of picture book territory, this book uses elevated language and humorous rants to create a well-advanced-for-its-age voice that is both funny and age-appropriate.
An Expansive Voice: The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
This book seems to expand and contract as the story of creation and evolution (yes, both) grows and the reading of it makes you breathe those ins and outs.
An Iconic Voice: 7 Ate 9 by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Ross MacDonald
This book is told in the iconic noir detective voice, but for kids. It begs to be read like an old private eye film voice.
A Hopeful Voice: Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
The text in this book pushes you forward, page turn by page turn, as you walk into the new life, filled with hope and promise with the two immigrant characters.
And a couple bonus older books:
A Quirky Voice: Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
The narrative of this book is told in instructions, giving it a very unique off-stage narrator’s voice.
A Loud Voice: Maya Was Grumpy by Courtney Pippin-Mathur
The voice of this text informs a crispy cranky read aloud (that, of course, softens by the end). I dare you to read it without a punchy pout.
Heidi is offering a signed copy of COUNTING BIRDS, to one lucky winner. To eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must be registered by March 4, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.
Heidi E.Y. Stemple is the author of more than 25 books, mostly for children. Her newest books are Couting Birds, illustrated by Clover Robin (2018, Quarto) and A Kite For Moon, co-authored by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Matt Phalen (coming in April, Zonderkidz). Talk books and owls with her on social media at:
Facebook: Heidi Stemple, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, and Owl Count
Instagram and Twitter: heidieys