During a recent conversation with a good friend, we got into a gentle disagreement about a book that I had given her child for a birthday present. The book responsible: Flashlight by Lizi Boyd. It’s a wonderful book with awesome illustrations and was given with a Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Bibi Bee Flashlight.
The disagreement started with the simple question: “How do I read a book with no words to my kids? That just doesn’t make any sense!”
Wordless books (sometimes referred to as picture books) allow parents, teachers, and children to explore books in an imaginative way and can open the door for learning a set of skills that are more difficult to teach and learn with traditional storybooks. Wordless books encourage discussion and allow children to creatively think and imagine their way through the book. They offer the fun role-reversal of your child being able to “read” to you. Sequencing and story structure are easier for some kids to grasp when they feel independent and secure in their ability to read by themselves. Wordless books are also a great tool to help children who may be struggling with reading to gain confidence in their ability to read (and enjoy!) books.
You may have established a pattern of reading books with your children. Maybe your preschooler is already starting to learn sight words and recite story lines back — or correct you if you forget a word or replace a phrase. Here are a few fun ways to incorporate all of these reading fundamentals for new learning experiences:
- Try putting post-it notes over the words in a not-so-familiar book. Then explore the story with your child using only the pictures. Too easy? Try starting at the end of the book and working backwards.
- Have your child “read” the story to you, and point out things in the picture: What do you think that blue bird is doing in that tree? That boy’s pajamas look really snugly — which of your pajamas are the most snugly?
- Use the illustrations to talk about colors, shapes, sizes, etc. Let your child set the pace when it comes to turning pages and moving on. Studies show that with no words to naturally signal that it’s time to turn the page, children spend significantly more time reading a wordless book.
- The next time you’re at the library, ask your librarian for recommendations of wordless books. Some of my recommended picture books are:
So, how to you sit down and read a book with no pictures to your kids? The answer is, quite simply, however you would like!