By: Elizabeth Wotherspoon

It’s FINALLY time to read your bedtime story which means you will get a little reprieve while your child sleeps. You’ve been looking forward to this moment since you brewed your morning coffee and you are just a few lines away from some peace and quiet. It can be quite tempting to just read the story and call it a day, but if you have a little more energy left in you during this precious learning moment, your child could really benefit.

When reading a story to or with your child, it is recommended to make it as interactive as possible. Sometimes this can be tricky because the words are there for you to read.

Wordless books automatically make reading in an interactive way a little easier because you do not feel obligated to stick to the text that is written.

Here are a couple more tips on how to read a wordless book with your child:

  • Add new vocabulary à explain the action in the picture and describe what else you see in the picture
  • Appreciate that the pictures are telling the story à talk about how the pictures portray the emotions of the characters and mood of the story
    • Emotions are found in the facial expressions and body language of the characters
    • The colours of the pictures are providing the mood (e.g., dull colours = sad or gloomy; bright colours = exciting and happy)
  • Encourage your child to tell the story based on the pictures à prompt him/her to include details about the setting (e.g., where and when the story is taking place); get him/her to describe the characters; encourage him/her to include the key elements of the plot (e.g., the problem and its resolution)
  • Summarize à once your child has told the story in his/her own words, get them to summarize what happened in the beginning, middle, and end – this gives an understanding of basic story structure and helps with comprehension skills
  • Comprehension skills:
    • Encourage your child to predict what will happen next in the story
    • Make connections between the story and real life
    • Talk about what the characters might be thinking and feeling
    • Brainstorm about the overall message of the story

So, you like your routine of reading your child a couple short stories at bedtime and you don’t want it to take too long because you NEED sleep too and that’s okay. Maybe instead of being a night time activity, a wordless story could become part of your day! If this sounds more appealing, add a little more to the activity:

  • Have your child write the text to accompany the pictures à You could do this by making your own story books or you could write the text on post-its and stick them on the pages
  • If your child is not yet writing, it’s okay to write these ideas down for him/her
  • If your child is enjoying this activity, get them to draw the pictures in their home-made books!

Here’s a list of good wordless story books for children ages four and up:

  1. Flotsam by David Wiesner
  2. Tuesday by David Wiesner
  3. Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day
  4. The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
  5. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
  6. The Red Book by Barbara Lehman
  7. Wave by Suzy Lee
  8. Chalk by Bill Thomson
  9. A Boy, a Dog and a Frog by Mercer Mayer

Here’s another list for younger children:

  1. Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
  2. Hug by Jez Alborough
  3. Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola
  4. Have You Seen My Duckling? By Nancy Tafuri

Okay, so now you know how to read a wordless story book with your child so here’s your challenge for tonight when you’re reading your child to sleep. FORGET ABOUT THE TEXT! Let your child choose the book they would like you to read, but tonight, make the story up based on the pictures rather than reading the words. Good luck!!