I’ve recently had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity fall in my lap. I have had the honor of collaborating with my “edu-hero” and literary icon Regie Routman several times throughout the summer! Regie’s work and research has had a profound impact on me as a classroom teacher and principal and, now that I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Regie more beyond reading her work, I can say she has impacted my life personally as well! I left every interaction with Regie questioning why I left the classroom in the first place, I LOVED teaching, especially teaching reading, I honestly don’t think there is anything as rewarding as seeing a child view him/herself as a reader for the first time, it still makes me smile when I think of that moment.
I started thinking about all the aspects of teaching reading that I loved and am starting to miss so that I could (hopefully) implement them with my daughter at home to “scratch my itch” of teaching reading. The first place my head went to was to my wordless picture book activities! Not only did I thoroughly enjoy implementing wordless picture books with my students, but my kiddos loved working and creating with wordless picture books as well (first and third graders)!
Wordless picture books are an excellent way for students to practice their verbal skills as well as getting their creative juices flowing. Oh, did I mention they are fun?… Don’t take my word for it, observe it for yourself from some of our youngest learners by checking out this video:
Utilizing wordless picture books allows your students the opportunity to gain confidence and practice as an independent reader. Reading is hard, I mean seriously: blends, digraphs, vowels going walking, not to mention the sound ‘ee’ has 10 spellings alone (be, beat, beet, baby, key, deceive, believe, radio, marine, and theme)!1 It is important for students to have successful opportunities with books so they find joy in reading. Wordless picture books remove the stress of decoding words so that students can focus on the story and comprehend what is taking place.
Wordless picture books are also a great way to help reinforce writing concepts. Instead of having students verbally express the story, have students write them down. This is such a great way for students to create stories with meaningful sequencing, practice writing with a story structure, expand students vocabulary/language skills, and allow students the opportunity to practice writing with dialogue. You can even just pick out one page from a wordless picture book and use that one page/picture as a writing prompt.
Teaching comprehension strategies can be so difficult to do, at any level. However, using wordless picture books you are able to easily assess your students comprehension and ability to identify different literary elements.
+Students must infer what is happening through the images they see
+Retelling the story involves students ability to sequence events
+Students can connect with the characters’ emotional intelligence by reading the images
+Provide question stems throughout the story for students to reflect and respond to
+Have students play an “I SPY” game with the wordless picture books recording figurative language and parts of language they see within the pictures (nouns, adjectives, alliteration, etc.).
Looking for great wordless picture books to get started, Goodreads has curated a list of 100 wordless picture books for you to start your collection with! Click here to access the resource.
As you can see there are countless benefits of implementing wordless picture books into your classroom! And, although you won’t see me in a classroom teaching the littles this year, I do find that providing opportunities for others to learn through my literacy experiences has been a great way for me to feel a little less “homesick” out of the classroom. But, we don’t have to stop the great dialogue and learning, be sure to sign up for our upcoming book study of “Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Excellence, and Equity for All Learners” by Regie Routman! And, who knows…..you might just get your own opportunity to meet my “edu-hero” Regie Routman too! 😇
1 “Why Learning to Read in English Is Hard.” https://thereadingadvicehub.com/struggling-readers-and-dyslexia/english-difficult/. Accessed 2 Sep. 2021.
Katie Algrim – Director of Innovative Professional Learning