Wordless Picture Books Supporting Writing

Working with some teachers last week, we started to explore the power of wordless picture books and how they can support children’s writing.  Here are some of the reasons that we came up with about why we should be using them:

  • they allow children to tell their own story based upon their own understanding of the images
  • the allow children to control a whole story thereby embedding story structure
  • they allow us the opportunity to teach the aspects of writing that children need to get better at in a controlled context, e.g use of speech, figurative language etc
  • they allow us to teach visual literacy skills and the ways in which they can enhance writing
  • they allow children to orchestrate a greater degree of complexity in character, setting, plot, conflict and theme
  • they develop speaking and listening skills

So why aren’t we using more of them?

Over the next few weeks I will be reviewing wordless picture books that will appear on our texts that teach list.

The first one I want to look at is Shadow by Suzy Lee.

This is an incredible book telling the story of a little girl in a garage who switches on the light and starts to make and play with the shadows.  The shadows become more and more fantastical showing a rich imaginary world.  There are only two colours used in the book, black and yellow, the yellow becoming more predominant as the shadows move further into the realms of fantasy.

What I really love is the way in whcih the book is designed with the little girl on one side of the double page spread and the shadows on the other, meeting at the centre of the book so if you hold up one of the pages it really does look like shadows on a wall.  The fold represents the line between reality and fantasy.  There are similar themes in her book Mirror.  Click on the link to the slide show to see what they are.

I can think of several ways of telling the story in this book.  The first way that springs to mind is the way in which Rosie’s Walk is told.  Sparse text telling the reality of the story but that leaves out all the interesting fantasy elements so I think I would like to retell it in the style of Think of an Eel by Karen Wallace and Mike Bostock which is a text with a dual voice.  One text told in straight forward report style and the other told in rich, alliterative language.  I think they would work well with Shadows.

What are your favourite wordless picture books?


Dual Voiced Texts

eelAs part of our Talk for Writing training we have been focusing on non-fiction using the wonderful book Think of an Eel by Karen Wallace and Mike Bostock.  The two voices in this book are very different; one a literary non-fiction with the most poetic language possible and the other a more formal report tone almost as captions.

There is so much to talk about in this book which makes it without question a text that teaches.  When we started to create our non-fiction texts that teach, several of the books were dual-voiced.  The power of this is that it makes it so much easier to introduce children to the idea of different voices when writing.

seahorseI recently came across Seahorse The Shyest Fish in the Sea by Chris Butterworth and John Lawrence which is another dual-voiced text.  The book is beautifully illustrated with what look like prints and just like Think of an Eel tell the story of a life cycle.  I love the way that it refers to the seahorse as Seahorse making it feel personal and the swaying of the more formal report voice to show us the movement of the waves.

This book would make a fantastic guided reading book for level 3 readers (UK National Curriculum) to be used during a unit of work based on Think of an Eel.

Have you used Think of an Eel in literacy?  Let us know how it went. And do you know of any other powerful dual voiced texts?