Teachers for Teachers | It’s Monday! So Many Wordless Picture Books… So Many Opportunities #IMWAYR
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It’s Monday! So Many Wordless Picture Books… So Many Opportunities #IMWAYR

Reading is constructing meaning and nothing sends this message more than wordless picture books.  Wordless books encourage readers to slow down, look closely, and notice the details in text.  They highlight the power of rereading to understand the plot, revise initial ideas, and ponder the deeper messages in a book.  Most importantly, they remind us to savor the joy of discovery as we piece the details together.

Over the past few weeks, we have been having fun using wordless picture books in K-5 classrooms.  When we watch our youngest readers engage with these texts, we can see how they naturally construct meaning.  These readers pour over the pictures, tell these stories aloud, and develop theories about the characters.  It is interesting to us that reading wordless books often seems easier for our early readers.  Proficient readers tend to quickly flip the pages unsure of how to read the story.  They don’t slow down to notice details and figure out how to connect the pages.  Wordless books give endless opportunities to remind readers what reading is all about – thinking!  Here are three wordless picture books we added to our collection this year:

Owl Bat, Bat Owl, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

From understanding the problem in a story, thinking about different characters’ points of view, and noticing symbolism, this compelling story is an excellent choice for readers of all ages.   There are many layers of meaning in this book so readers can access the text on many different levels.  Some readers may read this text and notice the message about helping others.  Others may notice the important messages about acceptance.   Thank you, Candlewick Publishers, for sharing this text with us. The themes in Owl Bat, Bat Owl are timely and timeless.

Little Fox in the Forest, Stephanie Graegin

Debbie Miller shared this title with us at a workshop last summer, and we have loved it ever since.  There are so many teaching and learning opportunities inside this book!

When reading this text, students must keep track of multiple characters and notice their interactions.  As each character impacts the others, readers will see the point of view of multiple characters and how characters’ change over the course of a text.  This close study of character will help readers uncover important messages about making mistakes, forgiveness, and thinking about others before we act.

Little Fox in the Forest is also a must-have during narrative writing units of study.  When students generate story ideas, we will read this book aloud to help them see how the important objects in their lives can be a source of story ideas.   Students can also study the illustrations to learn ways to express what characters’ are thinking in thought bubbles.  The different ways Stephanie Graegin has organized the illustrations on the pages is another opportunity for learning.  There are so many writing crafts young writers can learn from this text.

La La La, Kate Dicamillo

As we listened to students talk about this text they asked, “Why is she only singing La La La?”  Is she frustrated because she can’t sing?  Is she lonely?”

The answers are unclear, and we love that about this book! Readers have to hold their questions in their minds, read, and reread to construct meaning.  This text pushes readers to revise their initial ideas and then think about how the beginning of the text is connected to the end of the story. Such a fun text for readers to think about word choice – Why is “La” the only word in this book?

Wordless books help readers understand that reading is more than “figuring out the words.”   These books help students move beyond surface level comprehension and push them to figure out the big ideas and messages.  As students dig in to wordless books and build these skills, we can help them transfer and apply this knowledge when reading all different types of books.   Wordless books are a great tool to help students understand that Reading = Meaning.

The Writing Teacher’s Companion Giveaway

And the winner is….. Congratulations to Jane the Raincity Librarian!  We are so excited to send you a copy of The Writing Teacher’s Companion by Ralph Fletcher.  Thanks to everyone who commented on our blog last week and a big thank you to Scholastic Publishers for sending us an extra copy of this book.  We love how giveaways enable us to share books with readers near and far.


  • Avatar
    Karen Yingling
    Posted at 10:20h, 30 October Reply

    Thank you for the wonderful explanation of why my daughters and I were never fans of wordless picture books. “Proficient readers tend to quickly flip the pages unsure of how to read the story. They don’t slow down to notice details and figure out how to connect the pages.” We made up lots of stories on our own, but when we read books, we wanted to be TOLD the story!

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    Posted at 10:46h, 30 October Reply

    It’s always great to find a picture book with multiple POV. Thanks for sharing Owl Bat.

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    Linda Baie
    Posted at 13:35h, 30 October Reply

    A teacher of the youngest students at my school used wordless picture books to help students write their own stories. They loved the idea of creating what they imagined about the story. I do love all three of these, that you’ve shared how to approach some of the books for emerging readers.

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    Jane @ Raincity Librarian
    Posted at 17:08h, 30 October Reply

    I LOVE wordless picture books, I use them all the time in my library programs, such great creative prompts! They’re also great for kids who are convinced that they “can’t write” – it can be really inspiring for young artists to realise that you can tell stories without words!

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    Jana Eschner
    Posted at 19:34h, 30 October Reply

    I really enjoyed Little Fox in the Forest and La La La! Both are awesome! I still need to check out Owl Bat, Bat Owl. Have a wonderful week!

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    Posted at 22:35h, 30 October Reply

    I really do have to force myself and slow down and appreciate the visual parts of a story. I think that’s interesting to note because it’s not how all readers read and it makes me appreciate those who find the opposite just as hard – reading the words! Three wonderful books you’ve added here!

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    Carrie Gelson
    Posted at 04:24h, 31 October Reply

    I have read and enjoyed all of these titles. I own the first two and would love to have the 3rd one too! It is kind of magical. I always call these titles “tell alouds” and love when we all tell the story together! Little Fox in the Forest is one I am thinking of using for our Mock Caldecott – I love all of the details you need to slow down to discover.

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    Posted at 17:41h, 01 November Reply

    I loved Owl Bat – such a fun book to really examine the illustrations, too. I know I am in the minority on this one, but I didn’t love Kate D’s book as much. But thanks for devoting your #IMWAYR to wordless picture books – we all need to build better libraries of this kind of book.

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