Wordless

November 4, 2008

"A wordless book offers a different kind of experience...each viewer reads the book in his or her own way...As a result, there are as many versions of what happened that Tuesday night as there are readers" ---David Wiesner, Caldecott acceptance speech for "Tuesday"

I recently came across this quote in "A Caldecott Celebration" and it stuck with me because I have been noticing in the past few months how much my children enjoy wordless books. I was also recently reminded of my own early love of wordless books when I came across a wordless series I devoured as a kid. I stood in the library holding the little books about mice adventures and was quickly transported into a world I had forgotten about. When I brought them home, both of my kids (ages 5 and soon to be 3) kept reading them over and over again. I don't think they can be purchased but check your library to see if you can find any of the "Naughty Nancy" series or "Creepy Castle" both by John Goodall. In addition to being word-free and having delightful illustrations, they are smaller sized books and they have half pages throughout which change the scenes. Did anyone else out there read these as a kid?

Some of our more contemporary favorites are:

Flotsam by David Weisner
Tuesday by David Weisner
Lights Out by Arthur Geisert
The Crocodile Blues by Coleman Polhemus
Good Dog, Carl (the series) by Alexandra Day (yes, I know it bothers some people to see a small child left alone with a big dog, but their adventures are always fun and the illustrations are so appealing...and isn't part of the fun of reading to escape from reality?)

While searching for more wordless books, I came across this great list. And be sure to check out David Wiesner's website where he describes the "art of visual storytelling" and you can read the complete version of his Caldecott acceptance speech. Including these thoughts:

The truth is that the imagination needs no outside stimulus. To watch children at play is to see the mind in all its uninhibited glory.
I think that is part of the magic of wordless books. Without text there is more space for imagining all of the possibilities....more mystery, more playfulness, and more to the story.

So what are your favorite wordless books? or as David Wiesner might say your favorite visual stories?



Jessica said...

I'm kind of down on wordless books because Audrey still insists I "Read!" them to her. Then I end up having to make up stories. Perhaps I should try again and see if she will enjoy it on her own now.

And as a former Rottweiler owner, I love the Carl books--they are so well drawn. ;)

Colleen said...

The Flower Man is one of my kids favorites. The illustrations are beautiful.

Anonymous said...

We are good dog carl folks at our house. I used to have to 'read' them to J and he loved that we'd change the story every time. He also wanted to do an abstract painting because of the painting in Carl goes to the park book. Now, all the little ones love to look at the Carl books.
Thanks for the suggestions. I'll look up the other books too.
Jan

Meredith Teagarden said...

My mind is blank, and I love children's books! They are among my favorite things in the world!

morninglight mama said...

Wordless books are the so often overlooked ones, but there is such value there! It's a really different kind of 'read-aloud,' especially when reading to a group of children, but there's such value in involving the children in telling the story. Thanks for writing about this!!

One that I've liked is "Jack and the Missing Piece" by Pat Schories. So much fun, and really good pre-literacy skills are developed when children are engaged in telling the story based upon their observations of the illustrations and using their previous storybook experiences. yeah!

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

I found two more wordless books at the library yesterday. "The Red Book" and "Surprise". I added them to my Shelfari list. I'll have to search for Flower Man and Jack and the Missing Piece. Jessica,keep trying. I think Audrey might like the Surprise book or the mice series since she is such an animal fan. Noah used to get frustrated with them, too but he loves them now.

holly said...

I just love your kid book recs! The only one I can think of is "Hug" but it does have the word hug so not sure if it counts. When I first read that to my then 2yo daughter she was too overwhelmed with the sad emotions and cried about it. But my son liked it just fine.

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