Students often confuse tone with mood. These are very similar reading skills, but they are not the same. Tone is the author’s attitude toward his or her subject. Mood is the feeling that the author is trying to create in the mind of readers. Both tone and mood deal with feelings and attitudes. Tone is concerned with the narrator’s feelings. Mood is about how the reader is supposed to be feeling. I say “supposed to” because an author can never be certain of how their readers will respond. Nonetheless, the mood is about how the reader is supposed to feel.
Let’s look at an example. One of my favorite short texts is A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift. In this work Swift proposes the radical idea of eating the children of poor people. Obviously, this is meant to enrage the audience and the title of the work is ironic. So the mood of the work is outrageous, in that it is intended to build outrage in the minds of readers. Nonetheless, Swift develops this proposal as though it is a simple logical leap of the most sound kind. His “sensible” tone does not match the outrageous mood of the work. I hope that this example helps you understand the difference between mood and tone. I hope that you can also see how talented authors can play tone against mood to create works that thrive on cognitive dissonance.
This page contains some mood worksheets that I wrote to help students practice identifying mood. I also made some tone worksheets that can be found here. Each worksheets contains 9 or 10 problems. Students read the short texts and determine what mood the author is trying to create. They underline words and phrases from the passage that support their argument. They also explain their answers. I’m sure that these worksheets will be enough to help your students master mood. Let me know if they help. I love comments and feedback. Even the nasty stuff makes me laugh sometimes. Thanks for visiting!
That’s all the mood resources that I have right now. Eventually, I’d like to create and post a PowerPoint slideshow, a video, and maybe some activities. All that sounds like pie in the sky right now though. I hope that the mood worksheets and online activities that I do have prove to be useful to you and your students. Thanks for visiting!