My Teacher Librarian shared this wordless picture book with me-I can’t wait to try it out! Thanks L.H.!! Chalk by Bill Thomson
I love wordless picture books. There is so much you can do with them. When my daughter was three years old , she could sit for hours pouring through the pictures making up her own stories. The adventures changed slightly every time but she was loving books and thinking about words . She was enriching the story by noticing new details and drawing new conclusions about the story. She knew stories had a beginning middle and an end. She then started “writing” out her stories in a notebook. And yes- she still loves to read and write!
I was thinking about her the other day when I was encouraging a group of teachers to improve their student writing. They looked at me like I had two heads, they were just not able to see “any purpose” for these books without words.
Here are my Top Ten Reasons to use wordless picture books:
1. allow everyone to feel successful
2. lead to discussion ,critical thinking and creative writing
3. improve reading and writing skills
4. sequence of events and retelling strategies
5. helping children develop the basic building blocks of language
6. encourage the introduction of new vocabulary openers, connectors, signal words
7. develop story telling skills at any age
8. allows for individual and cultural interpretations
9. learn about clues in the pictures by paying attention to details
10. great for synthesizing and other comprehension strategies like making connections, determining important inferring and
Not mine but important…
Cassady, J.K. (1998). Wordless books: No-risk tools for inclusive middle-grade classrooms. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 41, 428–432.
- David Wiesner (author of Tuesday) identifies one of the most valuable characteristics of wordless books-the endless possibilities for creative interpretations.
- Wordless books enhance creativity, vocabulary, and language development for readers of all ages, at all stages of cognitive development, and in all content areas.
- The creativity stimulated by wordless books encourages older students to look more closely at story details, to carefully consider all story elements, and to more clearly understand how text is organized so that a story develops.
A great link to take a look at:
I have used it in a couple of classrooms to teach visualizing.I am excited by how beautiful the illustrations are and the enthusiasm by which it has been met in a variety of grade levels. I begin by explaining what visualizing is. Then I ask the children to listen carefully while I read to them. I tell them that I want them to picture exactly what the jaguar is doing, to listen for all the clues that the author gives us to help us think about where the jaguar is what it is hearing, tasting, seeing, smelling and feeling. I don’t show any pictures the first time I read it except the cover. (The first time I read it I masked the cover of the book and told them the title. About half way through I realized there was a lot of confusion because most of them had no idea what a jaguar was!) Background knowledge first!!! We co-construct a list of those descriptive words that help us visualize. One of my favourite comments from a grade one child was“I don’t want to see the jaguar, I want to BE the jaguar!“and a second child replied:” oh oh I am the jaguar!“” which I think is exactly what the author intended. We re-read the book and look at the pictures. I ask the students to check and see-were they visualizing what the artist painted? Were they right? If not does it matter? This usually results in checking books and the internet to be sure who was right.
” You tuck your claws
inside your paws
along the river,
leaving a trail of deep paw prints in the wet sand.”
As a follow-up lesson, I ask students to talk about another animal they would like to be. We talk about what they would hear, taste, see, smell and feel in the natural habitat of their animal. They share in small groups, telling each other what their favourite parts are. Some have gotten quite dramatic. Then we re-read the story. When we have really worked on being able to talk about it ( as per the theory of Big Writing) they write about it and illustrate the page.
Senior students enjoy this book as well -I used it in a 7/8 split and got some powerful descriptive writing which they then used in pairs to practice compare and contrast text structures.