'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Librarian's Shelf: Wordless Picture Books

When we consider books and literacy, many people think about written words, but they’re not compulsory.

Wordless books, those which rely on just the pictures, and not text to tell the story, provide the opportunity for children to tell their own stories and explore illustrations, thinking about what they see and what the pictures mean. Repeated readings will enable children to discove

· Vocabulary and language,

· Narrative storytelling skills,

· Visual literacy, and

· Imagination.

Two author/illustrators who have created several much-loved and treasured wordless picture books are Jeannie Baker and Jan Ormerod.

Jan Ormerod’s Sunshine and Moonlight offer young readers the chance to recognise simple activities from their own lives - waking up, getting dressed, cleaning their teeth, and so on - depicted frame by frame. Children will describe what is happening on the pages of the book, sharing a story they feel confident in.

Jeannie Baker’s books, which include Window and Mirror, are made from a series of incredible collages. Jeannie says of her work that she aims to “communicate through different layers of meaning … the most obvious of which young children can understand and the more subtle, older readers.” Shared reading of her books provides an opportunity for children and adults to engage with a story and learn from the experience.

Books without words can be enjoyed by all ages, not just young children, and there are many wonderful wordless books available. Three more favourites in this format are The Boy, the Bear, the Baron and the Bard by Gregory Rogers, The Snowman by Raymond Briggs, and The Arrival by Shaun Tan. They are multi-layered stories that offer humour and hope.

See our KBR Book List for Wordless Books on our website.

Sarah Steed is our Consultant Librarian and reviewer. A former Children's and Young Adult Librarian, she has more than 18 years' experience working in public libraries. Sarah comes from a family of readers and has shelves full to bursting with books.