Picture books aren't just illustrated texts. They are multi-modal texts where the meaning of the text is told through both the written text and the visual text. Often, the most sophisticated levels of meaning are drawn from the visual text. Children at Key Stage 2 can be introduced to complex themes, issues and ideas with picture books. Through the use of line, colour, tone and space, themes can be explored, suggested, implied in ways which children can understand. These particular texts provide excellent stimuli for discussion. As the texts themselves are short they are ideal for use with whole classes as they are inclusive at every level. Children of all reading levels can engage with them. Not only are they good for using in an English lesson, they are ideal for introducing, supporting and engaging children with themes taught in other curriculum areas such as history, geography, science and art.
Wordless Picture Books
Wordless books are exactly what the term implies—books that tell a story, but without printed story text. Instead, wordless books rely on the illustrations to draw readers into the tales they tell. The illustrators of wordless books communicate emotion, humor, and engaging detail without writing a single word.
They can be used in a variety of ways in the primary classroom with the whole age range. The story can be recreated by the children as a 'written text'. As the story has already been 'created', ie the structure, children can focus on the quality of their writing. Teachers can choose to emphasize a particular aspect of writing such as descriptive language. This can easily be differentiated so that different groups of children work on the use of noun phrases or similes/metaphor. You might choose to concentrate just on one image rather than the whole text.
They can also be used to develop children's inferential skills. How do the characters feel at different points in the story? How do they know? They will need to look for the 'clues' and examine facial expression, body language etc to be able to answer these questions. Once they have found the 'clues' useful lists can be created by the children as prompts/support for their own writing when you want them to 'show not tell'.
For a list of recommended wordless texts to use click on the link below.