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Where are the Words? – Making the Most of Wordless Books

If you happen to have brought home a wordless book from a bookstore or library, chances are that you will feel lost and won’t know where to start at first. I for one get quite intimidated with all the possibilities a book with no words has to offer. Even for adults, the non-existent support of words puts your language and creative skills to test.

Over a period of time, I have been able to look at these books as an opportunity to new conversation as against that one book on the shelf you avoid bringing out.

Worldless books like Ammachi’s Glasses, Flutterfly and Where’s The Starfish open doors to having literacy-rich conversations with your children. Every reader gets a chance to listen, speak and weave up a story in their own words.

How to Read the Book

There are a number of ways to tackle wordless books primarily depending on your child’s age and current verbal skills.

Narrating the illustration is the most common approach to adopt. However, it demands some innovation on your end. Rely on this approach if your child is just about learning how to speak or if this is the first time you are doing a wordless book with your kindergartener.

Ask Questions.  Your child’s verbal skills are improving every day. Every time you bring out this book, you will find that he or she has a lot to say with the new words learned since the last time you read the book together. Ask questions that encourage your child to start understanding the story elements such as the characters, theme and plot. Some general questions you can ask –

  • What do you see in this picture?
  • What do you think is happening?
  • Who all are there in the picture?

Depending on the age of the child, you could even spend time discussing the emotions the different characters are showing.

  • Why is the cat laughing?
  • Why do you think is the man surprised?
  • What is the fireman thinking of?

After reading the book a few times, you could move on to asking anticipatory questions that get the child excited about what happens next. “What do you think happens to do the dog next?”

Child-led Narration is an excellent approach to wordless books. Older kids can narrate the story to you or to their younger siblings. This helps develop oral skills, confidence levels, build on their imagination and also help develop a vocabulary.

If you are new to wordless books, Ammachi’s Glasses is a great book to start with. For more seasoned young readers, Journey Trilogy by Aaron Becker is a masterpiece worth going through.

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