|You read my mind.|
I spent this whole week wondering about speech bubbles, because my six-yr-old is always adding them to his drawings. I never taught him to use speech bubbles, but he's certainly seen them in books, most prominently in Mo Willems' Pigeon books.
A quick read of the Wikipedia entry on speech bubbles satisfied my basic research need. Representing speech in art dates back to Mesoamerica! (Have you ever been to Belize? Later I'll post nostalgic photos of our trip to Lamanai and sailing off the coast of Ambergris Caye.) In medieval European art, speech was depicted on paper scrolls spiraling away from people's mouths. If that was how words really came out, some people I know would need a full ticker tape while others could get away with confetti.
American adults get the idea that a puffy balloon represents thought, a straight balloon represents words, and a broken balloon can represent exclamations of non-verbal sound. There are also whisper bubbles, scream bubbles, and icicle bubbles. I swear the other day at work an icicle bubble almost appeared in thin air during a certain conversation I was having...
My oldest, who we'll call M, loves to use speech bubbles when he writes his own versions of the Pigeon's adventures. I think in his case it's less intimidating than narrating an entire story. I'm guessing it's also more satisfying to know exactly what the main character is thinking, instead of trying to infer from descriptive text.
Tucked at the end of the entry on speech bubbles was a link for The Bubble Project. Take a look, I think it was a neat little way to fight back against certain elements in our world that we can't control.