ELA 4: Tone

Today, we're covering tones. No, note the sounds your phone makes when somebody calls you. We're talking about the emotional feel of a piece of writing. The language that can make you happy, scared, nervous, or in the case of Shmoop reading the fifth Harry Potter book, curled up in a ball sobbing.

4th GradeLanguage Arts
LanguageEnglish Language

Transcript

00:23

But today, we're going to talk about tone! [Cheerleaders dancing]

00:25

…See what we did there?

00:26

Tone refers to the emotional feel of a piece of writing. [Coop explaining tone]

00:29

For example, if your BFF passes you a note in class and it makes you snort, the tone

00:34

was probably pretty funny. [Girl snorts after reading a note]

00:35

Or, if your teacher writes a note to your parents about how you tend to snort in class

00:39

instead of pay attention, her tone might be pretty stern.

00:42

Tone depends on what's happening in the story: the setting, the events, and how the characters

00:46

interact all play a part. [Dino discussing tone]

00:47

It can be happy, sad, mysterious… whatever emotion the story provokes in the reader!

00:52

Even boredom, though hopefully that doesn’t happen. [Man reading book and falls to the floor]

00:54

What's more, the tone is generally connected to what the main character is feeling.

00:58

As a reader, we're meant to identify with the main character, so whatever they're feeling [Love hearts floating above girls head]

01:01

is a pretty good hint of what the story’s tone.

01:04

And since the tone is connected to what's happening in the story, it can change over

01:07

the course of the story.

01:08

It's rare to read a story where everyone's happy all the time, so we wouldn't necessarily

01:13

expect a story to have a happy tone from start to finish. [Man gives thumbs up stood next to burning car]

01:16

Because, yes, even too much happiness can be a little boring. That’s why we stop

01:20

watching Barney the Dinosaur as we get older.

01:22

Well, some of us do… [Man watching Barney on TV]

01:24

So let's think about the first few chapters of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

01:27

When the book starts, Harry isn't the darling of the wizarding world.

01:31

He's a lonely kid living under a staircase with the Dursleys, a family that doesn't treat [Harry Potter under a staircase and Dursley family appears]

01:34

him very well. Naturally, Harry's pretty sad.

01:37

The tone is pretty straightforward here. Harry's the main character, so the tone ends up being

01:41

what he's feeling, aka sadness. [Harry in a rainy street]

01:43

Things start to change as the story gets going, though. As Harry's about to turn eleven, owls

01:48

start bringing letters addressed to him, which his uncle tries to destroy. [Owl flying and letter burns]

01:51

With all this excitement, Harry's sadness gives way to a new curiosity, which – you

01:56

guessed it – is the tone of this part of the story.

01:58

After a while, despite Uncle Vernon's best efforts, the Dursley house gets a visit from [Hagrid appears at the front door]

02:02

Hagrid, a half-giant wizard, who whisks Harry away in order to get him ready for wizarding school.

02:07

As Harry finds himself plunged into the world of wizards, he becomes extremely excited, [A floating feather]

02:12

and so do we. And, yup…so does the tone.

02:15

All that's to say, that tone is pretty important in a story. It’s the story’s emotional

02:19

heart and soul. It’s what makes us care, laugh, and cry.

02:23

Now if you'd excuse us, we're going to re-read Harry Potter for the hundredth time! [Woman reading Harry Potter]

02:26

Did our tone sound excited?

02:28

Bingo! That's 'cause we are!