As you know the other night I was fortunate to facilitate a parent’s literacy night. I love these because parents and educators have so many great ideas to share. I walked away with lots of new perspectives on the work I do as a teacher and also the role I play as a parent in promoting thinking and learning. One concern that came up was a parent that was having difficulty engaging her child in talking about the books that they read together. She felt like her son didn’t have much to say. This is a typical dilemma I see as I work with a variety of children. The tricky part is promoting rich discussion without overanalyzing a story to the point that the story gets weighed down and is boring! I shared one possible way to promote talking “through” a story- using a wordless book.
I love wordless books because there are so many useful ways they can bring value to any reader. In this parent’s case, I think it would be nice for her child to let the images drive her story telling but a wordless book also lends an opportunity for the adults to model using rich language to describe what is happening. I shared the book Chalk by Bill Thomson because I think it appeals to readers of all ages and in particular is a magical story that inherently connects to one’s imagination. I suggested to this parent that the first time she reads the book with her child they do so “quietly” meaning just let her child enjoy and drive the talk. Her child will probably initiate the discussion because most readers can’t help but call out as they “discover” this magical tale. Then maybe the second or third “read” she could try modeling spending time on some pages describing the “important action” but also noticing the rich details in the character’s expressions, setting, and tone. I reminded her not to force her child into the talk but to nurture it by acknowledging her child’s thinking throughout the story.
Our conversation of using the book Chalk to promote rich talk actually prompted a larger discussion on the many exciting ways that wordless books can be used to nurture a love of books. There were so many I compiled just some into a list that I thought you might find interesting. Click on this linkhttp://www.scribd.com/doc/182410018/Wordless-Books-docx and feel free to explore the ideas as well as some of my favorite wordless books. Do you have your own ideas or wordless favorites? I’d love you to please share!
Raise the FLF: Wordless books are great to use across age groups because it doesn’t hold one down to a particular level of text. Therefore I think these provide a particular opportunity for families to learn together. Wordless books can be great fun to bring a family together and story tell as a group. Adults and kids alike can take turns telling the next pages and building on each others imagination to weave their own fantastical story. Try it with a few wordless books; then take those new family skills and put them to the test. Can you build your own story together? One person can pick a character or characters, another a setting, and yet another a problem. Then while having dinner or driving around running errands (or while waiting on reeeaaally long lines this holiday season) try taking turns telling a story. Not only will this promote lots of great skills for your children (speaking and listening!) but it will also provide lots of great family fun.