Many parents, usually in the first few weeks of term, will face the wordless picture book being sent home and ask themselves, “Well how can we ‘read’ this?” If this is you, you are not alone. We will hopefully help take away the fear or confusion and help you to enjoy and cherish the experience with your child as you Talk Around the Book or help your child to read books with no words.
What is talking around the book?
This can be identifying things and people seen in a text’s images. It can be discussing the feelings or actions of people in a text, using the images to support their ideas. It can be you or your child telling your own story using the images in a book as inspiration.
All of these are vital steps in a child’s pre-reading experience.
We get so stuck on reading words and learning sounds, that we often forget that verbal storytelling (it works for non-fiction books too) is key. Not only to develop their speech and language skills, but this will help their reading and writing skills in the not too distant future.
[pullquote align=”normal”]INVEST IN IMAGINATION. ENJOY THE PICTURES. FORGET THE WORDS. [/pullquote]
What is a picture book?
A picture book is simply a book with pictures, where the pictures help to tell the story. Quite often, the pictures are as crucial, if not more so, than any words in the text.
Even if there are words on the page you can “talk around the book” with just the images used.
What is a wordless book?
A wordless book is a picture book without any words.
Why are images so important?
Images without words have deep roots in our history. Cave paintings, hieroglyphics, stain-glass windows, even silent movies, exist to share information, culture or stories in a visual way.
In maths, we learn to count objects before we recognise the number symbol (numeral). We also problem solve in real life situations before we learn to solve a written number sentence such as 2+2=4.
In science, we explore cause and effect and make observations before we learn to record our findings or solve equations.
The same thing happens with reading. Children need to experience a range of emotions in real life. This helps them understand how and why characters think, feel and do actions in stories.
They need to be read a range of stories and rehear them an unmentionable amount of times to help them learn repeated phrases, begin to understand story structures and enable them to successfully tell their own stories.
When I was a teacher, my pupil’s most imaginative and exciting story writing used to be from wordless picture book stimuli.
They wouldn’t simply try to recreate another writer’s tale (though style and word choice are an important skill), but let their own imagination lead their adventures and their relationships with their characters.
To read around the book, do I need to have a wordless book?
Short answer, no.
Long answer, ANY image can tell a story. A postcard, a photo, a scrap of wrapping paper… all of these could be sources for storytelling.
Sometimes younger children, who are beginning to recognise letters have a meaning, can get hung up on getting the words or the ‘real story’ correct.
Wordless books can help to take away that fear of error. They can help the child to focus on the images and their own imagination to inspire their weird and wonderful tales.
How can you read a book without pictures with your child?
Sit down with your child and say you are going to “make up a story” for the book and take turns “reading” a page at a time together.
Remember to include things like “Once upon a time”, the setting and give the characters in the story names, yes even the monkey!
Sometimes you’ll have stories that made no sense or ones that are mostly about bodily functions. Believe me, this is normal – yet strange – phase most children seem to go through.
Let them explore the boundaries and develop their own style and worlds. Your stories will be so different from theirs. It’s also unlikely they’ll tell the same tale twice, even from the same book.
So what does it look like?
Here is a video of a very happy helper, ‘reading’ different types of texts.
Telling a story
‘Reading’ Non-Fiction (Information books)
We’d love to see your little readers sharing their books with you. If you’d like to upload a video, please join our Facebook group (Parent’s Homework Hub) and upload your video. We look forward to hearing from your budding authors!