A guide to reading a wordless picture book
Just a few tips for reading a book that has no words to read!
- Sit with the audience at eye level. A wordless picture book asks the audience to come towards the book rather than have the story come to them. You need to make them feel as if they are going to be involved in the story from the start.
- Before you begin, keep this in mind – you are not about to tell your audience a story. Instead, you are about to discover a story together and share in a great experience.
- Spend time on the front cover before even moving onto the book itself. Ask the children about the title. What could it mean? Look at the cover. Based on what can be seen, what could the story be about?
- Look at the endpapers – are there any hints as to what is coming in the story? What hidden clues might we need for the story?
- As the story begins, start with a basic question: What do you see? Get the obvious out of the way and then ask: What else do you see? Get the children hunting for clues. Collate their ideas on a flipchart. Make sure all of the children participate in this – all opinions need to be valued.
- As the story progresses, ask other types of questions: How do you think ……….is feeling? How do you know? Have you ever felt this way? (See section on questions later on in this pack)
- When faced with moments of tension in the story, ask the children: What would you do in this situation? Get the children to identify/empathise with the character(s). Don’t reveal the next page until you have got them thinking: What is going to happen next because of…
- If children are feeling unfocused, you may need to recap the story so far. Show the children that you are engaged with the tale. If they sense you are not, they will not be either.
- Celebrate the unexpected or revelatory offerings; they can be such a powerful moment for the child(ren) involved.
- Last thing to remember – DO NO RUSH THE READING. It is such an easy thing to do especially when there are no words to follow. Take your time on each page; look for those hidden messages/moments. Let the children discover a story of their own.