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 Grade||Language Arts|
But today, we're going to talk about tone! [Cheerleaders dancing]
…See what we did there?
Tone refers to the emotional feel of a piece of writing. [Coop explaining tone]
For example, if your BFF passes you a note in class and it makes you snort, the tone
was probably pretty funny. [Girl snorts after reading a note]
Or, if your teacher writes a note to your parents about how you tend to snort in class
instead of pay attention, her tone might be pretty stern.
Tone depends on what's happening in the story: the setting, the events, and how the characters
interact all play a part. [Dino discussing tone]
It can be happy, sad, mysterious… whatever emotion the story provokes in the reader!
Even boredom, though hopefully that doesn’t happen. [Man reading book and falls to the floor]
What's more, the tone is generally connected to what the main character is feeling.
As a reader, we're meant to identify with the main character, so whatever they're feeling [Love hearts floating above girls head]
is a pretty good hint of what the story’s tone.
And since the tone is connected to what's happening in the story, it can change over
the course of the story.
It's rare to read a story where everyone's happy all the time, so we wouldn't necessarily
expect a story to have a happy tone from start to finish. [Man gives thumbs up stood next to burning car]
Because, yes, even too much happiness can be a little boring. That’s why we stop
watching Barney the Dinosaur as we get older.
Well, some of us do… [Man watching Barney on TV]
So let's think about the first few chapters of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
When the book starts, Harry isn't the darling of the wizarding world.
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]
him very well. Naturally, Harry's pretty sad.
The tone is pretty straightforward here. Harry's the main character, so the tone ends up being
what he's feeling, aka sadness. [Harry in a rainy street]
Things start to change as the story gets going, though. As Harry's about to turn eleven, owls
start bringing letters addressed to him, which his uncle tries to destroy. [Owl flying and letter burns]
With all this excitement, Harry's sadness gives way to a new curiosity, which – you
guessed it – is the tone of this part of the story.
After a while, despite Uncle Vernon's best efforts, the Dursley house gets a visit from [Hagrid appears at the front door]
Hagrid, a half-giant wizard, who whisks Harry away in order to get him ready for wizarding school.
As Harry finds himself plunged into the world of wizards, he becomes extremely excited, [A floating feather]
and so do we. And, yup…so does the tone.
All that's to say, that tone is pretty important in a story. It’s the story’s emotional
heart and soul. It’s what makes us care, laugh, and cry.
Now if you'd excuse us, we're going to re-read Harry Potter for the hundredth time! [Woman reading Harry Potter]
Did our tone sound excited?
Bingo! That's 'cause we are!