The Last Library

story by Dannika Patterson , illustrated by Ana María Méndez Salgado

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to listen for the musical qualities in stories so that I can experiment with auditory imagery in my own writing.

Success Criteria:

  • I can actively listen to a text to identify parts of writing that sound musical or have an interesting aural quality.
  • I can match a range of quotations with different auditory imagery (rhyme, alliteration, sibilance).
  • I can consider the effect of auditory imagery on the reader.
  • I can experiment with auditory imagery in my own writing.

Essential Knowledge:

More information about how techniques can be used to transform writing into vivid sensory descriptions can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Connotation, Imagery and Symbol.

Prior to introducing the story, let students know that they will listen to it twice. Then, either read the story aloud to the class, or if you have a digital subscription, listen to its audio recording.

On their first hearing they should aim to understand the plot of the story. You might like students to demonstrate their comprehension through a Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? chart (available as an interactive template on the Graphic organisers page on the Digital Learning Selector site).

On the second hearing, instruct students to listen for phrases that sound interesting. You might guide them further by asking them to listen for repeated sounds, rhythm, rhyme or anything with a musical quality. If a student hears an interesting phrase, ask them to clap. Stop the recording and write the phrase on the board.

At the end of the story a class list of phrases might include answers like these:

He zigged and zagged

rubbish-rescuing racoon

tasty treats he’d taken from the town’s trash bins

hawk stalked

shimmering scales

stumbled, skidded and somersaulted, slamming straight into a sleeping dragon

screeched and swooped

‘Oh, crumbs and cockroaches!’

‘Fiddlesticks and fungus’

Revise the definition of imagery according to the NSW Curriculum glossary:

Use of figurative language to represent objects, characters, actions or ideas in such a way that they appeal to the senses of the reader or viewer.

Explain that there are a range of techniques that appeal to a reader’s sense of hearing. The umbrella term is auditory imagery, and it includes the techniques of onomatopoeia, rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, assonance, sibilance and plosives. These techniques add to the musical quality of a text, as well as creating a descriptive soundscape.

Extension: at this point you might like to link the repeated use of auditory imagery with the overall message of the story. This story is about the power and importance of reading. It talks about how the ‘sounds of stories’ can draw people in. Students should make the connection between the appealing sound of stories generally, with how musical this particular story is due to the technical crafting of the author.

Return to the class list of phrases with interesting sounds. Select and analyse some examples as a class, determining why the author chose to make that particular sound. For example:

Technique Example Effect
Rhyme and assonance hawk stalked The similar sounding one syllable words sounds like the hawk is quickly twisting his head which would make him effective at stalking
Alliteration of the letter 't tasty treats he'd taken from the town's trash bins The short repeated ‘t’ sounds like a quick flurry of action. It helps us imagine how Rascal is moving and the sounds he is making.
'Sibiliance stumbled, skidded and somersaulted, slamming straight into a sleeping dragon The repeated ‘s’ sound slows down the reading of the story. It makes Rascal’s movements seem more clumsy and awkward.


After students have considered the use of auditory imagery in the story, instruct them to write their own soundscape based on an image (suggested resource: West Virginia Waterfall). Remind them that the purpose of auditory imagery is to create a mental sound in the reader’s mind. You may wish to conduct a class brainstorm of possible phrases to include in the description, before instructing students to complete the independent writing task. The SEEL Alliteration Dictionary can also inspire student responses. For example

Onomatopoeia: splash, trickle, whoosh, whisper

Alliteration: rush and rumble; splash, sprinkle and squirt

Rhyme: the caw of birds and roar of water

Descriptive paragraphs can become part of a class display. Alternatively, students can record their descriptive paragraphs and add appropriate sound effects.


Close Reading Lesson: