Friday, November 21, 2008
"Reading" Wordless Books
Here's a fabulous blog post I wish I had written - Tanya has some wonderful things to say on The Well-Read Child about wordless books. Her list of "read"-alouds is short but exquisite. Here are some additional thoughts:
While I haven't used many wordless books in storytimes, I "read" them extensively to my two kids when they were little. The sadly out-of-print Tabby by Aliki was a huge favorite of my younger daughter. This story of the first year in the life of a kitten adopted from a shelter by a little girl entertained 2-year-old Nadia through an entire plane trip to Minneapolis and back (I wracked my brains on ways to tell the story differently until I realized that Nadia was perfectly content just to hear the story the same way over and over). Occasionally she piped in with a comment or two, but mostly she listened. It was so odd for me, as her older sister had been (and still is) much more the on-to-the-next-book type.
The Peggy Rathmann books that Tanya mentions were also big favorites. 10 Minutes Till Bedtime, although not strictly a wordless book, had particular appeal due to the numerous busy hamsters that appear over and over on each page. We could stretch that book out to half an hour, I swear.
Wordless books are not only excellent ways to bond with one's book-addicted child, but they also provide juicy possibilities for dialogic reading. Googling that term will pull up plenty of information, including this short and clear explanation from Multnomah County Library, but in a nutshell this is a method of sharing books with kids that invites participation and discussion. When a child tells the story in his own words or predicts what will happen next or even changes the story, he is practicing narrative skills and strengthening his language skills.
Parents or caregivers who are partly or entirely illiterate can share wordless books with their children, as can parents who speak a language other than English. The pictures tell the story, and both grown-ups and kids can gain confidence and have fun by relaying the plot to each other out loud.
A final plug for a huge favorite of mine - anyone who thinks wordless books are just for little kids should read Shaun Tan's The Arrival. A more complex and thought-provoking book is hard to imagine; like many readers, I spent hours pouring over the illustrations. So hugely satisfying!
Posted by Eva M