Dr. V.S. Gayathri
A Look into Wordless Books
Updated: Nov 12, 2021
When we talk about books, we mostly think of books full of words and sentences. When we think about books, we associate them with reading. However, there is something known as ‘wordless books’ as well.
What are wordless books?
Wordless books are the ones where there are no words or very few words. These books are very helpful for young learners. These books have more images and illustrations with very few words. When a child is just beginning to read, understand and explore, these books can be a great resource for them.
Wordless picture books have become a valuable tool for literacy development as they engage children, irrespective of their reading level, and helps in critical thinking, making meaning, and storytelling. A child’s involvement and interaction with a wordless book can also develop their vocabulary and greater understanding of story structures.
A study looked at the use of wordless picture books on a 7-year old male non-reader. The investigation focused on the exploration of the child’s responses to a selection of narrative wordless picture books. It was found that wordless picture books are a good source for analyzing a child’s early and emergent literacy. Using wordless picture books may deepen can definitely broaden our approaches to the teaching of reading. Moreover, current research shows that children develop their own understanding of the world in wordless books, allowing for the unique creation of a story despite the lack of text.
What are the benefits of wordless books?
Enhances comprehension and analytical skills- Wordless books encourage them to comprehend on their own. Since there is zero or minimal text, these books can be interpreted by the kids in various ways.
Improves creativity- This brings us to our next benefit which is improving creativity and imagination. Wordless words open up a whole new world for kids to explore in their own way.
Helps to build vocabulary- Since the child will be interpreting and making up their own stories, it will surely help them to build their vocabulary through learning new words and using them.
Invokes interest- We have seen many kids who are reluctant to read. Wordless books can be a good way to urge them to take interest in books. Since there are limited or no words, they can browse through the illustrations. Gradually, they will start picking up a book and start reading on their own.
Inculcates self-confidence- Wordless books are more about interpretation and putting ideas and thoughts of their own. This also nurtures and boosts self-confidence in a child because he/she starts thinking on their own and starts expressing their viewpoint
How to read a wordless book with your child?
Before starting the book, read the title to your kid. Show them the image on the cover- ask them what all they can see. For example, if you see a tiger, then ask your child, “What do you think the tiger will do?” “Look the tiger is smiling? What will he do next?”
Next, take a ‘picture walk’ through the book before starting to read. Let the kid enjoy the pictures of the book. Then, go to the beginning and start again. By now, the kid will know what to look forward to.
There is nothing right or wrong in these books. Like you can let your child imagine however they want to interpret the story. Kids love telling stories. Let them see a picture and build their own stories. This way their understanding, imagination, creativity, comprehension and vocabulary improves as well because they have to express in words. Gradually, the child will be able to relate to the story as well and connect it to real-life things or events.
For young learners, they might be able to start a story right away. So, you can help them with some questions like “What is this?”, “Which place it can be?” or Where, Which, and When.
The Why questions can be asked a little later once the kid is able to interpret on their own. You can repeat the same book because every time kids come up with different stories. This way they can explore many ideas.
What are some of the good wordless books to try?
Some of my favourite picture books that kids enjoy reading are:
Good Night Gorilla Books
Noah’s Ark Books
Books from Tulika’s Publication like Ammamma’s Sari and Ammachi’s Glasses
Picture talk and conversations from Jolly Kids Books
You can try any of these books and enjoy reading with your child. Wordless books are definitely a great resource to build vocabulary and comprehension for young learners.