One Writer’s Journey

March 26, 2015

Read Aloud: Using the Picture Book Chorus

Rather you are writing fiction or nonfiction, if you are writing a picture book, you need to create a great read aloud experience.  This is because picture books are most often written for prereaders.  Whether the book is read to a single child at bed time or read to a group at story time, picture books are often read aloud.  This means that making your manuscript a fun read aloud experience is key.

One way to do this is through a chorus.  A picture book chorus is any repeated line of text.  Not sure what I mean? Think back to your favorite folk and fairy tales.

The Gingerbread Man give you: “Run, run as fast as you can but you can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread Man.”

With the Three Little Pigs you have two:  “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.” and “Not by the hair of my chiny-chin-chin.”

In the Three Bears it is “Just right.”

And it isn’t just the old stories that have a chorus as you will see if you pick up Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah OHora.  In this story of a wolf adopted by a bunny family, you have the chorus “He’s going to eat us all up!”

A chorus makes a picture book fun to read aloud because it helps involve the audience of pre-readers.  As soon as they hears “He’s going” they join the adult reading Dyckman’s book with “eat us all up!”

What makes this chorus especially fun is that it isn’t used by only one character.  Wolfie’s adopted sister is the first to use the line and she is the one who says it most often, but at one point, her friends all see her new brother and join in chorus “He’s going to eat us all up!”

Can’t work a chorus into your story?  Don’t give up.  Rhyme, onomatopoeia, rhythm and word play all make for a fun read aloud experience.  Play with one or more and see what single or in combination makes your story into something more.

–SueBE

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