After my 10-year-old student Lisa learned about how she could affect a reader's experience by choosing words to connote a particular tone, she took it upon herself to send me these contrasting depictions of "The Waking World"--showing both a positive and a negative connotation. As you will see, Lisa clearly understands the power of words upon the mood of the reader, as well as the mood of the fictional characters. Lessons on "connotation" and "tone" are usually reserved for high school English classes, but I have seen, again and again, with students like Lisa, that avid readers of any age can comprehend word power in a metacognitive way.
The Waking World (Negative)
Cold dawn light filtered through the gray, cloudy sky. People slumped their way into coffee shops. The gaunt peoples’ spirits were as transparent as a ghost. Rusty cars sat on the dark road, and their headlights, almost like eyes, looked menacingly at the passing pedestrians dragging their bodies across the sidewalk. Empty cans thunked against the ground and echoed the hollow feelings of the town. Children walked their bikes across the dead grass and didn’t stop to say a word to fellow classmates. Dogs barked at approaching cats as they hissed scornfully. Fungi grew on almost every tree and the trees seemed to say, “I am not a happy tree, I am an ugly, sad tree.” Flowers drooped and mosquitos bit into the unappetizing, but only food--the grumpy humans.
The Waking World (Positive)
Warm dawn light seeped into the air of the town. People emerged from their houses and breathed in the air as if God were standing right there and they were trying to breathe in the sweet scent. Coffee sellers came out to greet people with their coffee and maybe a pleasant “Hello!” Children skipped in the front yards, getting their bikes and pedaling off to school, and women pushed strollers across the streets, with babies echoing the cheers of laughter and happiness. The flowers stood proudly, fanning out their vivid colors and leaves. The trees stood tall as if they ruled the world. Cats purred and dogs wagged their tails. As the sun rose over the green mountain peaks, everyone set off happily to enjoy the rest of the day.