Thursday, December 30, 2010

Playing with books - reading wordless books (ages 2 - 6)

Making a story come alive is such an important skill for new readers to learn. One great thing to try is reading a wordless or nearly wordless book, and add sound effects, speech or thought bubbles, and narrative. Here are some fun books that preschoolers through 1st graders will have fun with. Since they contain very few words, they aren't daunting for new readers. But you still have to work at figuring out the story and making it come alive.
by Jez Alborough
MA: Candlewick Press, 2005
ages 2 - 6
available on Amazon and at your local library
Bobo is a little chimp who wishes he were a lot taller. Alborough uses expressive illustrations and very few words to show the little guy's attempts to feel bigger. At first he stands on a boulder, and proudly exclaims, "Tall". But then a lizard comes along, and stands up straight, making Bobo feel small again. The friendly lizard allows Bobo to climb on its shoulder, and once again the little chimp is tall. The sequence repeats itself with many more animals coming along. My first grader had a great time adding emotion to each proclamation, sound effects of the animals walking through the forest, and narrative of what Bobo was thinking. Bobo is featured in two other nearly wordless books by Alborough: Hug and Yes.

Breakfast for JackBreakfast for Jack
by Pat Schories
NC: Front Street, 2004
ages 3 - 6
available on Amazon or at your local library
Jack, a cute little dog, and his family wake and get ready for their day, going through their busy  morning routine that will be familiar to young readers. The little boy gets distracted and forgets to feed Jack, even though Jack tries his best to get noticed. Schories does a wonderful job of using clear, expressive illustrations to convey the action and feelings of the characters. It makes a perfect book to add dialog, sound effects and invented narrative. There are several other Jack stories, including When Jack Goes Out, Jack Wants a Snack, Jack and the Night Visitors, and Jack and the Missing Piece. You might recognize Pat Schories' illustrations from the classic early reader series: Biscuit.

As a parent, I've sometimes found reading wordless books daunting. At times, I've wanted an easy script to follow without thinking. Even if you've found wordless books awkward, give them a try. The open so much up for your children, giving them the power and ability to get into a story themselves without depending on you to decode the words.

If you want to explore more wordless books, take a look at this review by Children's Literature. They provide a very comprehensive look at a wide variety of wordless books for new readers.
The review copies came from our local library. If you make a purchase on Amazon using the links on this page, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing these two titles. They look darling. I'm a great fan of wordless books. My sons happened to love them, so I have a small collection. One of their favorites is Up, Up, Up! by Shirley Hughes.

    At my last school, a sixth grade language arts teacher and I put together a collection and she had her students write narratives.

    Last year, I collaborated with the ESL teacher on a similar unit. I used Jerry Pinkney's Lion and Mouse. We pulled together a selection of wordless titles ranging from very simple, for those with very little English, through to complex for the students who were about to test out of ESL.

    This year, I'm adding The Boys by Jeff Newman and Shadow by Suzy Lee. Thanks for the additional possibilities and the link to more.

    Happy New Year!