Wordless Picture Books:

Bring Life to Language

Claire Mansur, Gladstone Elementary, Kansas City, MO

Wordless Picture Books:

Introduction

My project’s purpose is to give English Learners (ELs) access to text through wordless picture books. The goal of using these books in our class and school is to engage students who are multilingual in our classrooms. Students may work on their language skills as well as reading and writing skills using the wordless picture books. Since there are no words in the picture books, students become more confident readers. Our school’s multilingual students will show increased literacy skills through the use of these books.

The project was also meant to provide teachers with easy access to image-texts for emergent bilinguals. In my experience, students in upper grades may lack confidence in grade-level reading abilities. Using wordless books is an effective scaffold for students still growing their literacy skills.

Step-by-Step Plan

  • Purchase and gather books and materials. 
  • Fill baskets with resources.
  • Demonstrate to students how to use wordless picture books in small groups.
  • Encourage students to engage with the books independently or with partners.
  • Send home wordless picture books and strategies.
  • Use the wordless picture books in independent reading, tutoring, and small groups. 
  • Create a newsletter and videos for teachers explaining how to incorporate wordless picture books into their lessons.

Timeline

  • August organize materials in baskets and develop check-out process.
  • September- Introduce the books in the classroom and generate enthusiasm. 
  • October-November- Send home resources for specific students to engage them with wordless picture books. 
  • December-February - Continue using the wordless picture books in the classroom. 
  • February-March - Create newsletters and videos for teachers to share strategies.

Budget

https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/3KNGHIWOE2PUE?ref_=wl_share 

Materials-

  • Wordless Books: So Much to Say!By Gilda-Martinez-Alba, Judith Cruzado-Guerrero
  • Sentence Strip Rolls
  • Foldable Crate Baskets
  • Lined transparent sticky notes.
  • Transparent speech bubble sticky notes
  • Thought cloud sticky notes.
  • Speech bubble sticky notes (multiple colors)

Books: 2 copies of each

  • Good Dog Carl by Alexandra Day
  • Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez
  • I walk with Vaness by Sebastien cosset and Kerascoet
  • I forgive Alex by Sebastien Cosset and Kerascoet
  • Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin
  • Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd
  • Shine by Dagny Griffin and Laura Bobbiesi 
  •  A stone for Sascha by Aaron Becker
  • Quest by Aaron Becker
  • Hike by Pete Oswald
  • One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey by Henry Cole 
  • The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney 
  • Mr. Wuffles! By David Wiesner 
  • Mirror by Jeannie Baker 
  • Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
  • Tuesday by David Wiesner 
  • Zoom by Istvan Banyai 
  • The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
  • Journey by Aaron Becker 
  • Unspoken: A story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole
  • A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog by Mercer Mayer 
  • Another by Christian Robinson
  • Chalk by Bill Thomson 
  • Shapes, Shapes, Shapes by Tana Hoban 
  • Rainstorm by Barabara Lehman
  • Wave by Suzy Lee
  • Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie DePaola 

What did it look like?

Sustainability

The project will continue in the future because it will be easy to sustain, and teachers will always have access to it. Currently teachers are checking out books from my classroom, but they will be available for use by checking them out at the library in the future or in the teachers lounge. The teachers will have access to many resources through a Padlet that they can use to gather ideas. Binders will contain teacher-created lesson plans to share. The teachers will always have access to these books and materials and over time they will find new books that we can add to the resources list and book baskets. Younger grades can use the books through independent reading, with reading buddies, and in small groups. The upper grade teachers can use these books to reinforce skills learned and support students with language proficiency and reading skills. 

Reflections

The project was a great way to engage the students in my classroom as well as other EL students in the school. Many of the students in my classroom were so excited for the wordless picture books because they do not need to depend on words to read the stories. They could tell stories on their own and add their own creative twists. Brodie (2011) states, “Children have freedom and creativity to use their own voices for the story as narrators of what happens and developing characters" (p. 46).

The students were able to work on their early literacy skills. They were engaged with the books while learning basic skills such as elements of a story or characterization while using illustrations instead of words to gather information. Zevenbergen et al. (2021) state, “Wordless picture books may also promote children's sequential thinking and visual literacy” (p. 22). 

The books also supported students writing in 4th grade. The students were able to work on adding the text to the books by using some of the materials such as the transparent sticky notes. Some students worked on adding transition words into their writing when summarizing and sequencing events. Overall, the students felt success with the books in small groups but engaged with them independently as well.

The use of the books for the whole school was beneficial because teachers were able to see how these would be used and were provided with many resources to help implement them in their classrooms. Using the binder or Padlet with the list of lessons and resources will help teachers understand how to continue to implement the books in a variety of ways. Many teachers were excited about the books and expressed interest in adding to our collection in the future, even a third basket of books possibly. Many of these books are great for teaching students basic reading skills and this seemed to be the most helpful for the younger grades. Honaker & Miller (2024) describe wordless picture books and explain, "They allow students to practice vocabulary, even academic vocabulary, or necessary reading skills without text complications" (p.7). Students gain a sense of independence and increased creativity when reading these books. One of my students shouted one day, “I can read!” with joy and excitement when using a wordless picture book. 

 

References: 

Brodie, C. S. (2011). Wordless Picture Books: Creative Learning Ideas. School Library Monthly, 28(1), 46–48.

Zevenbergen, A. A., Angell, A. L., Battaglia, N. A., & Kaicher, C. M. (2021). Co-Constructing Stories: Sharing Wordless Picture Books with Preschoolers. Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 19(4), 22–26. https://doi.org/10.5860/cal.19.4.22

Honaker, J. D. & Miller, R. T. (2024). Wordless but not silent: Unlocking the power of wordless picture books. TESOL Journal, 15, e721. https://doi.org/10.1002/tesj.721

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