Mary Renck Jalongo is a teacher, an educational consultant, and the author of numerous books on early childhood education. In this article, she offers a developmental sequence for introducing children to wordless books. An important point is that even though there’s no “wrong” way to read wordless books, they do range from simple to more complex, and examples are given of each type.
You can find lots of bibliographies of wordless books online. At the GoodReads site, you can click on any book cover to read a description and some offer a preview. Kindle editions are less expensive than hard copy books. If your classroom is equipped with digital projection technology, this would be a great way to share wordless book readings with your class.
Some great techniques for reading wordless books are modeled here. I love that she says that at any time if the child is finished then reading is finished—you don’t have to finish the book. I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t think I ever thought of that.
A teacher-mom describes her introduction to wordless books when her3-year-old daughter received one as a gift. She was frightened to realize that she would have to “make up” the story herself, but she soon made a wonderful discovery.
The possible uses of wordless books with emergent readers is as endless as the imagination. Here are great explanations of some of these uses. I especially like the last one: to inspire writing. This could be as simple as creating a “who-wanted-but-then-so” chart with a group of students.
Here are some great questions to ask when reading a wordless book with children. The important thing is that there is no wrong way to do it. A handy rubric to keep in mind is “who-wanted-but-then-so”: most stories follow this form. Another tip is to try to read it a little differently every time, for natural vocabulary building. I love this author’s postscript that sometimes her son “reads” the story in the first person!