If you’ve ever seen a children’s book that has no words, just pictures, you may have wondered how to even go about “reading” it. How can you read a book aloud to a child when there is no story?
Ah, but there is a story! The illustrations tell the story and it is up to you and your child to come up with your own narrative. Share the pictures together and use imagination and good observation skills to see the plot.
Look for the beginning, middle, and end to this story–the sequence of events. Ask questions and soon your child will be asking questions about the pictures too. Take your time and really look at the illustrations. Your child may see little details in the pictures that you miss.
Wordless picture books are perfect for read-aloud and can be adapted to many levels of understanding. Model storytelling and talk about the emotions of the characters in the book. Can your child imagine how the characters are feeling? Together, predict what will happen next. You will be stretching your child’s thinking and using the pictures to expand your child’s vocabulary.
March is National Read-Aloud Month and a great time to practice reading wordless books aloud as part of the “Books are my Super Power” Read-Aloud Challenge! Take a look in the Read-Aloud Tool Kit and you’ll find a pledge you can take to read aloud to your child every day and activities and books lists to download to make read-aloud even more fun!
Check out these wordless picture book favorites:
- “Pancakes for Breakfast” by Tomie dePaola. In this humorous book about a little old lady’s attempt to make a pancake break- fast, dePaolo tickles the funny bone and gives a lesson about optimism and persistence. Children can make predictions about how this heroine will use her Super Power of Determination to finally have a pancake breakfast!
- “Flotsam” by David Wiesner. When a young boy goes to the beach to collect and examine the typical objects that wash ashore, he discovers something unexpected–a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera. Children delight in this imaginative exploration of the mysteries of the deep.
- “The Lion and the Mouse” by Jerry Pinkney. This wordless picture book is the well-known Aesop’s Fable about a tiny mouse and a mighty lion. Children will see the themes of kindness, trust, and friendship in the beautiful illustrations.
- “Good Night, Gorilla” by Peggy Rathman. A zookeeper says goodnight to a gorilla, but the mischievous gorilla is not ready to go to sleep. He follows the zookeeper around, letting all of the other animals out of their cages, before following the zookeeper to his bedroom and getting into bed. It takes the zookeeper’s wife to ensure all (or nearly all) the animals return to their cages.