Saturday, June 2, 2012

Wordless Picture Books

Wave by Suzy Lee

I don't remember how we started with the wordless picture books, but they have been one of my favorite parts of reading to Beansprout the last few years.  I love all they have to offer in terms of noticing and of being aware.  It's amazing how much of story can be told in pictures, and it's something I sometimes lose sight of when I'm reading other children's books.  There is so much meaning behind the way the illustrator chooses to portray the scene, the characters, and the background; sadly, I sometimes miss these subtleties because I'm focusing on the language and the telling.  Using wordless picture books has allowed us to slow down a little and concentrate on some serious reading strategies.  We talk about where things are happening, about who and what are in the picture and predict why they are there.  One of my favorite scenes is from the book Wave, by Suzy Lee. Toward the end of the story, the little girl who has been playing in the water is excited to show her mom the sea treasure she has found on the beach.  What I love about the scene is that you don't actually see her mother until the next page, but you can infer who she is talking to because of a small part of her mother's umbrella that hangs just at the end of the page.  I'm thrilled that we have the opportunity to help build such an important skill with Beansprout at such a young age.  

Wave is a book I highly recommend, if you're interested in trying out wordless picture books!  The illustrations are stunning and it's amazing the way she uses color to give life to the ocean.  We also love the escapades of the ever-alluding walrus in Where's Walrus by Stephen Savage.  Flotsam by David Wiesner and The Secret Box by Barbara Lehman are both big hits, because of their mystery and introduction to concepts of time and time travel.  We recently acquired The Chicken Thief and it's companion, Fox and Hen Together, by Beatrice Rodriguez, based on online recommendations. 

Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez

Where's Walrus by Stephen Savage

Flotsam by David Wiesner
Wordless picture books make building reading skills effortless.  I also believe they really grow with the child, because after hearing you tell the story different times and different ways, the child begins to see his own way of telling the story.  There's nothing I love more than to see Beansprout standing at his play table flipping through a picture book and telling the story to himself!  I can't wait to see how these books can also serve as storytelling and writing prompts in the future. 

Are you familiar with wordless picture books?  Do you remember creating your own stories based on those you read as a child?  I would love to hear if you have wordless picture books you think everyone should have in their library!

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