Friday, July 19, 2013

Wordless Picture Books.....wonderful

"The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television."
                                             ~Andrew Ross

Let me begin today by re-posting a wonderful article regarding the value of wordless picture books for children.  The author of this great article is S. J. Butler (a Yahoo contributor).  She is an author, speaker, freelance writer, book reviewer, and information professional.

Books without words? This sounds like a strange beast, and yet, the skill of reading pictures in a book is just one of the important steps on the track to literacy. More importantly, each child that "reads" the pictures tells a new story and finds a twist on the main events that creates a unique telling. Pictures are a universal language that everyone, even young children, can read.
Sometime around the age of three, children typically understand how a book works, which is top and bottom of the page, and the directions that pages turn, etc. At this point, children often pretend to read a book, another sign that literacy is on track. In the next few years, preschoolers will be able to pick out words or phrases in a book, but also become skilled at telling a story through pictures alone. Emerging literacy is blooming!
So, just how do you "read" pictures? While this can be a challenge for some adults with whom reading words is ingrained, the beauty of such a book is that it invites children to read it to you, opens the door to conversation, sparks the imagination to create a story, and offers young ones the opportunity to develop language. One way to get started with a child is to look at and talk about the cover.
Chris Van Allsburg, author of The Polar Express and many more wonderful picture books, says, "At first, I see pictures of a story in my mind. Then creating the story comes from asking questions of myself. I guess you might call it the 'what if - what then' approach to writing and illustration." This approach to writing is also a good approach to reading picture books, and especially wordless book.
After opening the cover to the first pages, ask you child questions like "What is this character trying to do?" or "What do you think is happening here?" Then, before turning the next page, ask, "What do you think will happen next?"
Here are my three favorite, tried-and-true wordless picture books to help you get started:
1. The Red Book By Barbara Lehman, Houghton Mifflin, 2004
A girl (you can name her yourself) finds a red book in the snow on her way to school. Inside the red book are pictures of a boy on a beach who is also reading a red book. In the boy's red book, a girl in a big city is reading a red book. What will happen next? Will the magic of the red book bring them together somehow? What happens to the red book on the last page practically begs readers to go on and tell more of the story themselves.
2. Sidewalk Circus by Paul Fleischman and Kevin Hawkes, Candlewick, 20004
An exciting circus is coming to town according to signs and a marquee. While preparations are underway for the circus, people around the neighborhood unknowingly perform a sidewalk circus for the observers at the bus stop. Be sure to read the end pages and look at the shadows for more of the story.
3. Once Upon a Banana story by Jennifer Armstrong, pictures by David Small, Simon and Schuster, 2006
A monkey and a banana, with one thing after another, cause havoc all around the neighborhood. There are signs with words that tell part of the story, but it's the pictures that rule the crazy, funny series of events. The pictures are so packed with many details that you may see a new story upon every reading.
Pictures are an important feature of any story book, but the eyes of the reader may be the most important thing of all. Pictures often attract kids and adults to a book, but the imagination of those reading the story brings it to life. If young children have fun and enjoy reading pictures, it will only be a matter of time before they are intrigued by the words as well.
Beloved children's author Beverly Cleary ( the Ramona books, Henry Huggins, and more) once said, "One rainy Sunday when I was in the third grade, I picked up a book to look at the pictures and discovered that even though I did not want to, I was reading. I have been a reader ever since." You can put the books in your child's hands that may lead them to a lifelong love of reading, as well.
Happy Reading!

Todays book I am going to highlight is:
Title:  Hank Finds An Egg
Author and builder/photographer:  Rebecca Dudley

This unique wordless picture book tells a tender and beautiful story  of kindness.  Hank, a bear cub, while out in the woods one day, finds an egg on the forest floor.  He looks up into a tree and finds the nest where it belongs. He tries with all his abilities to replace that egg back into its proper home, but to no avail.   After many futile attempts, with the sun setting and the moon rising, Hank finally has to suspend his efforts.  He wanders away and makes himself a shelter for the night, builds a fire, constructs himself a blanket of leaves and lays down with the precious egg to protect it and keep it warm for the night.  Early the next morning he goes back to the spot and tries once again to figure out a way to replace the egg.  He meets another friend of the forest and co-operatively they work together to restore the egg to its rightful home.  A beautiful surprise emerges at the end of the story.  Could it be a reward for Hank's kindness and tender heart?  I think so.  Everyone loves a truly happy ending and this book will not disappoint you in that regard.  
The pictures provide so many opportunities for vocabulary building, imagination exercises, and storytelling.  The beautiful artwork, (a series of miniatures and close-focus photography) are wonderful.  This book is recommended for kids ages 3-7.

About the author:

Rebecca Dudley is a builder, creator, photographer, and artist.  She makes everything that appears in her illustrations-the trees, leaves, ponds, skies, and the creatures themselves.  She has a small architectural practice, and lives in Evanston, Illinois with her husband John, dog Josephine, and her many magical Storywoods characters.  This is her debut children's picture book.  Visit her blog at

Book Review Rating:   8 (Fantastic!)
Read on and read always!

No comments: