Volume 23, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-6740
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9935
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The presentation of speech-in-text is an inherently meta-linguistic practice. When children bring speech into their writing, they are necessarily attending to speech as such. Constructing reported speech requires them to use language reflexively and may be a critical component of the development of an authorial voice. We examined 3495 occasions of reported speech or talk about speech in 689 personal narratives by 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in two inner-city schools. We found grade-related increases in the use of reported speech, in the variety of forms of reported speech used, and in the strategic alignment of reported speech form with plot. We also found a relationship between the use of reported speech and explicitly meta-narrative comments. We argue that as children begin to perform Bahktin’s ‘layering of voices’ in their stories, they are developing a meta-awareness of stories-as-stories. This meta-awareness, we propose, co-evolves with children’s use of reported speech forms, reveals itself in their strategic use of these forms, and gives us a glimpse of an emerging self-conscious narrator. As they become more conscious of themselves as authors in middle childhood, their stories begin to demonstrate qualities of literariness–the qualities of an authorial voice.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): authorial voice; middle childhood; personal narratives; reported speech
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