Have you ever heard of a “wordless picture book”? Wordless picture books are books without words or very few words, but they are a great way to build critical literacy, listening vocabulary, and comprehension skills. They also help increase a child’s awareness of how stories are structured. As the school librarian in my district, I have the opportunity to share books with my students week after week and help kids choose books to take home and share with their families. Wordless picture books are PERFECT for my preschoolers and kindergarteners who do not yet know how to read. I model how to “read” a wordless picture book by carefully examining each picture and just talking about what I think is happening-creating my own story in my own words. (And believe me, I REALLY channel my inner actress here!) Then, I release the kids to their tables to try it on their own. I absolutely LOVE listening to the stories that they are creating! Sharing wordless picture books also reinforces the idea that the pictures and the storyline are connected. In this blog, I will share a few tips for sharing wordless picture books with your children.
Make Predictions and Have Conversations
Before even opening the book, take a few minutes to look at the cover art and the title. Have your child make predictions about what they think the book might be about. Taking this time before even opening the book will help your child begin to imagine story ideas and scenarios that they can put together as they are “reading” the pictures. After you have spent some time discussing the title and the cover art, take a “picture walk” through the pages of the book. This will REALLY get their ideas flowing! Appreciate the illustrations, look carefully at the expressions on the characters’ faces, and notice the setting, or where and when the story takes place. Talk to your child about what you both see. These conversations will only enhance your child’s storytelling skills.
So Many Possibilities
There are no “right” or “wrong” ways to read a wordless picture book. The storylines are endless because kids are using the pictures and their imaginations to create them. One of the beautiful things about reading a wordless picture book is that the story can change each time your child reads the pictures. So many stories can be created from a single book!
Ham It Up
After you and your child have “read” the book one time through, go back and read it a second time…with some added PIZZAZ! Consider reading the book to your child and creating your own story, using fun character voices, sound effects, and interesting vocabulary words. Really ham it up here! Seeing how much fun you are having and how creative you are as you read, will hopefully inspire him to do the same, maybe even BETTER! You can even make this a fun family activity. Why not have each person in the family create a story for the same book, and vote on which storytelling is the best? “And the Oscar goes to…”
In closing, the art of sharing wordless picture books is a great way to instill a love of reading while building important literacy skills. For a book with little to no words, you will be surprised at how much fun you will have creating original storylines!