“Reading” Wordless Books

Wordless BooksHave you ever tried to read a wordless book with your child? Even for someone who is an enthusiastic and confident reader, I get a little stuck with those. Without words to guide you, it is easy to feel a little lost on what you should “say.”

In the library today, my toddler picked out “Trainstop” by Barbara Lehman. Page by page we worked our way through. He is at the point where he likes to read a book multiple times, that really worked in our favor here.

* 1st time: I described what we were looking at

* 2nd time: I gave liberal prompts “What is she doing here?” “How do you think she feels?”

* 3rd time: On each page I just asked “What is happening now?”

* 4th time: I sat back while he narrated whatever it was he noticed or was interested in

In each “reading” his autonomy and confidence grew. He mostly pointed out things on each page he liked, but he also parroted back some of the narration that I had provided initially. This worked well with my 2yr old, but it could easily be adapted to older kids as well. They would just grow more detailed narratives as they felt more comfortable!

You could also incorporate the basics of “Visual Thinking Strategies” (VTS) a method developed to “support student growth by facilitating discussions of carefully selected works of visual art.” In VTS teachers ask:

  • What’s going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can we find?

This can be a good guide for asking questions about what you are looking at in the book. For even more tips you should definitely turn to the internet! Reading Rockets has some tips for sharing wordless books and PBS shares some tips and also favorite books on their blog.

For more books, ask your favorite librarian (or check out the internet). I like the books by Barbara Lehman (check out “Museum Trip) and also Tomie dePaola’s “Pancakes” is a favorite at our house!

Good luck and happy reading!

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