Just for Him

story by David Hill , illustrated by Anna Bron

Composes dialogue using descriptions of actions to direct readers to who is speaking.

Draw students’ attention to the first two lines of dialogue in the text, between the father and the mother. Identify speaking verbs that have been used to identify who is talking (‘says’ and ‘asks’). Continue reading and instruct students to search for further examples of speaking verbs. Note how the next two lines do not include speaking verbs and instead describe the action, with the quoted speech featured directly after, as with the following:

Her husband shakes his head.

His wife smiles.

Inform students that as this is a dialogue between two characters speaking verbs do not need to be included with each line. Instead it is clear who is speaking as the conversation flows back and forth between the two, with a new paragraph being used to show the person speaking has changed. Tell students that authors will often do this to avoid repeating speaking verbs throughout a story.

Instruct students to work with a partner identifying further instances where speaking verbs have been replaced by actions, such as:

The father holds up the gift.

The mother laughs.

Note these on the board for students to refer to later.

Emphasise that only when the son joins the conversation is another speaking verb required.

Discuss gifts students have received and the person that gave them to them. Share examples, such as, a time when you were given a special gift by a family member. Discuss how students felt when they received the gifts (e.g. excited, overwhelmed, happy).

Collaboratively compose a brief dialogue including an example of someone being given a gift and their reaction to it. Inform students that once you have used speaking verbs for each of the two people involved in the interaction they should strive to use actions instead to orientate readers to who is speaking. A sample answer is provided below:

“Here, open this,” Grandma says.

“Is that for me?” I cried.

Grandma smiled. “Oh yes, it sure is.”

My hand flew to my face. “I don’t believe it.”

Grandma handed me the gift. “Open it.”

I tore into the wrapping. “Oh Grandma, a watch. Just what I’ve always wanted.”

View the video Punctuation: Introduction to Speech Marks on YouTube to ensure students are familiar with the following:

Speech marks are used around what characters say, known as quoted or direct speech

Two speech marks are used at the beginning and end of the words the character says

A capital letter is used to start quoted/direct speech

Punctuation goes inside the speech marks

A comma separates what is said from the rest of the sentence

Instruct students to compose a brief piece of dialogue, using actions to identify which person is speaking. Refer students to the list of actions identified from Just for Him, if they need ideas of actions to include.