Welcome! I am so excited to share with you my love of wordless picture books and how they can enhance your reading curriculum. A little background for you…I teach at the Town School, a co-ed, independent N-8 school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. We have two Kindergarten classrooms with 22 children each and are lucky enough to co-teach. This is actually a presentation that I presented with my fellow K teachers earlier this year, but they weren’t able to join me today.
This website is where you can find a “Slideshare” of today’s Powerpoint, as well as digital copies of all of today’s handouts. We also have reference articles from professional educational journals that discuss the use of wordless picture books in classrooms. Please check it out!
Learn specific strategies and prompts to use in your classroom, See kindergarten students in action, Browse our wordless picture book collection, Experience a mini-lesson, Walk away with materials to use in your classroom
Also clarify could be wordless or mostly wordless and then reference example that is scanned in background
Examples of different content (progression from basic to more advanced): concept books, depicting a familiar routine, books that tell a story. We try to only use “the best of the best” – we focus on books that have an age-appropriate, relatable narrative with a beginning/middle/end and clear illustrations. For example, ideally we wouldn’t choose a book about the desert tundra for our NYC students because they wouldn’t have the necessary life experience or vocabulary to tell their story. Similarly, books with more complex, imaginative, or abstract themes, although enjoyable and attractive to young readers, do not always lend themselves to clear story lines. (Hold up two examples – Tuesday vs. Boy, Dog, Frog). There’s room for both, but you have to be conscious as the teacher that you can’t expect the same results from both.
Ask for volunteers to share – if no one volunteers, ask for show of hands
Here are some of our reasons for teaching with wordless picture books! There are many wonderful advantages of working with this genre, but before we go into them in depth, these are some of the highlights…
I feel the best way to learn about this genre is to experience it for yourself! So, for the next few minutes, I am going to share one of our favorite wordless picture books with you, our “students.”
Ask volunteers to share aloud - things they hopefully notice: acting like character, character voices, naming character, making up story from illustrations, linking pages, beg/mid/end, book handling, etc
You’re right! All of the things you noticed this teacher demonstrating in her read aloud are strategies that we specifically teach our students throughout our unit. For example, here are some of the teaching points that we include during our study. Readers create their own stories when they read wordless picture books,Readers take a picture walk first before telling the story aloud,Readers can become the characters in their story and act out the story with their body,Readers can think about the characters thoughts and feelings (i.e. provide speech bubbles/thought bubbles, point to the character and ask, “I wonder what s/he’s thinking and feeling?”),Readers can take turns telling a wordless picture book story with a partner or small group,Readers give their characters names. You may be wondering how we teach these strategy lessons. We use the TC Reading Workshop model to guide the creation of our curriculum, so we begin each 30 minute RW with a teacher-led mini-lesson on the rug, followed by independent reading and partner reading at tables. We have traditionally taught this Wordless Picture Book unit as the first reading unit each fall, spread over 10 lessons (which for us was a little over a month). However, there is so much to teach, you could easily extend the unit.
In this video clip, you’ll see my colleague, Laura Lazarus, teaching the children how wordless picture book readers can become the characters in their stories by acting out what they are reading.
In this next video, you’ll see me demonstrating how wordless picture book readers can create dialogue and “make their characters talk” as they read the story in their own words
In this last video, you’ll see my colleague, Amy Johnson, modeling how wordless picture book readers can name the characters in their stories
Do not share out responses
Now that you’ve seen and experienced a glimpse into the world of a wordless picture book unit, we want to return to the broader question of why this is valuable to teach. How do these skills develop children as readers?
We choose to begin our year with this Reading Workshop unit each fall so thatchildren can experience success with books. Success with wordless picture books is not defined by a child’s ability to decode words on a page, but their ability to tell a story in his or her own words. It gives children ownership over their reading experience and makes children feel confident in their own ability to “read” a book.
In our classroom, reading is not just decoding text, but also using the pictures to tell the story in your own words. From the language that we use to call the children to the rug (“Good morning Readers!”) to the letters that we send home to parents, we are constantly reinforcing the idea that everyone is a reader.
One of the benefits of this genre is that it is accessible for students at all levels. As we have discussed, readers not yet decoding feel very empowered and successful with this genre. In addition, English language learners can also benefit from wordless texts. Non-native English speakers do not have to understand the English language to be able to enjoy these books. Teachers of English language learners can also use wordless texts to help their students develop their use of the English language. Similarly, wordless picture books provide more open-ended experiences and opportunities for children with special needs.
Research has shown that children who practice interpreting illustrations and constructing stories through wordless picture books are able to later transfer these same skills into books with text. For example, a 1996 study revealed that children’s abilities to construct stories from picture books at 5 and 6 years of age were correlated significantly with higher standardized reading test scores two years later. Working with wordless texts helps students understand how books work and how stories are told. As they develop these skills in the context of reading, they can also begin to transfer this knowledge as they create their own stories as writers.As educators, we continue to struggle to find the perfect balance when teaching a child to read. Some believe in phonics instruction, some believe in whole language instruction, and most acknowledge that we need a balanced approach that borrows from both. However, the argument has been made that neither of these approaches place appropriate focus on comprehension, the other key element for successful reading. A wordless picture book unit eliminates the need for focus on text, and thus builds a reader’s comprehension skills. In a book with no text, the reader’s comprehension of the story is constantly informing how they will tell the story.
When there is no text (or minimal text) provided, readers must rely on their own language to create the story. This offers an authentic way for children to develop their language skills. For example, if a child is reading a book about the museum, they will be encouraged to practice using vocabulary specific to that topic. Telling a story also helps students develop their language when sequencing events or using transition words, such as “next” and “then.” When not telling the story themselves, readers also benefit from hearing others’ rich story language and vocabulary during partner work and teacher read-alouds.
In our experience, children truly delight in their experiences with wordless picture books. Because we teach our readers to act out the story with their bodies or use animated character voices, these books promote multiple means of interacting with the story. Telling stories provide students an opportunity to express themselves freely and creatively in authentic ways. Children can decide for themselves how they feel most comfortable telling the story and interacting with the book.
But you’ve heard me talk enough about why teachers like wordless picture books…now it’s time to hear what some of our students have to say about wordless picture books!
And here are some videos of our students reading wordless picture books
When children read a book with text, we are all familiar with the many assessment tools available to help us, as teachers, record and gauge their proficiency as readers. When we began teaching this unit, we initially struggled to capture all of the great data that we were seeing during our reading sessions. After some investigation, we found a research team that, back in 2001, created a rubric for narrative picture books. We have since adapted the tool and made it our own. We will include this in your handouts today.
Briefly discuss rubric and explain organization
In your handouts packet, we’ve also provided guiding questions that teachers can use while conferring with readers during this unit. These teacher prompts are organized by skill for ease of use. So, for example, if you are listening to one of your students read a wordless story and they are completing ignoring the setting in their retelling, you could check this section of the handout - “focusing on story elements: setting” - and try asking some of these questions to prompt that child and guide his or her retelling to include the missing elements.
And while we’re looking at your handout packet, we also want to point out that we have included a bibliography of some of our favorite wordless picture books.
We have brought many of our wordless picture books for you to peruse today! Look for these characteristicswhile you enjoy our book collection.
You Can Read! Wordless Picture Books in Kindergarten
You Can Read!Wordless Picture Books in Kindergarten<br />Suzanne Perreault<br />The Town School<br />
Acquire materials to use in your classroom</li></li></ul><li>What is a Wordless Picture Book?<br />“the pictures tell it all” (Lukens, 1991)<br />“(they) rely entirely on illustrations to tell a story” (Jalongo et al, 2002)<br />
Choosing Wordless Picture Books<br />“Just because a book is textless<br />does not make it suitable for young children.” <br />(Jalongo et al, 2002)<br />Watch for:<br /><ul><li>complexity
Turn and Talk!<br />What can a student learn <br />about reading <br />from this read aloud?<br />How did the reader <br />tell this story?<br />How did the reader <br />interact with the book?<br />
There Is So Much To Teach!<br />create the story<br />take a picture walk<br />name the characters<br />act out the story<br />become the characters<br />add dialogue<br />collaborate with a partner<br />