Franki’s Weekly Text Set– Intentional Use of Dialogue: Picture Books with Talking Bubbles

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

This week’s books could make up a mini-unit on the intentional use of dialogue in narrative. So many young writers work hard to create dialogue in their writing and many are reading books in graphic novel form, that dialogue makes up a great deal of their writing.. For readers, it is important that they understand how dialogue impacts a story. For dialogue to work in a story, the author has to be intentional about its use. This week’s set of books will give young readers a way to look at dialogue with a writer’s eye–why did the author make this decision about dialogue. Hopefully after studying a small set of texts, writers can be more intentional and effective in their use of dialogue.

I think I’d get started with Lift and Dumplings for Lili. Lift is in graphic novel format with very few words. Much of the story is told through illustrations. But there is some dialogue that is important to the story. But the author is intentional about every word of dialogue. This book would make a good first book to notice and wonder about the decisions about when to include dialogue and when not to and how the dialogue adds to the story. In Dumplings from Lili, there are two kinds of dialogue–the dialogue in the text and the dialogue in talking bubbles as part of the illustrations. There are different reasons for each and thinking together about why some of the dialogue was embedded in the text while other dialogue was embedded in illustrations (what purpose does each serve to the story and reader) will make for good conversation.

In both Not Enough Lollipops and That’s My Sweater!, the dialogue is critical to the story. The story would make no sense without the dialogue. Sometimes dialogue adds some detail and sometimes the dialogue is used to tell the story. These are two books to think about how and when dialogue is used to tell the story. Dialogue is used in very different ways in these two books but much of the storyline depends on the dialogue in each.

In See the Cat and See the Dog, again dialogue is critical to the story. Without the dialogue the story would not make sense. However the dialogue is used in a bit of a different way in these two as the characters actually converse with the narrator. This is tricky to do well (and sometimes hard to understand as a reader) but it is something many children try in their writing. How did the author have the character talk back to the narrator effectively in these two books would be the question I’d ask with these.

In Our Day of the Dead Celebration, talking bubbles are used throughout the book. The dialogue is often part of the illustration so this is a great book to talk to readers about how important it is to read the text and the illustrations for full understanding. This dialogue adds detail to the main part of the story in very important ways. The way that the author used dialogue to tell more is intentional and effective and worthy of study.

So many of our students love to write with humor. It takes so much skill to do this and a favorite author to study humor writing is Josh Funk. In his fairy tale series (It’s Not Hansel and Gretel and It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk pictured here) , the use of talking bubbles to add humor is intentional throughout the book. There is intentionality and craft to his decisions and for our writers who want to make their stories funny, studying the ways Josh Funk uses dialogue can help! (And these stories are just great fun to enjoy together!)

This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious and/or  Cover to Cover Children’s Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous local children’s bookstore to support, Cover to Cover is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio! If you don’t have an independent children’s bookstore in your town, check out Bookelicious. They are an online independent bookstore for children with an incredible curated collection.

Author: franki22

3rd Grade Teacher

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