As my wise mother often says, "While you're reading the words, the
child is reading the pictures." The processes and skills involved in
reading the pictures are mostly the same ones involved in reading the
text. Too often, though, adults feel that a wordless picture book
slights the importance of reading. Not so! Wordless books allow practice
in those skills. A child can read the pictures to herself, or better yet, verbalize it to another person.
Listening to your child interpret the pictured story will give you a superb window into your own child's mind. Start out with Molly Bang's The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher, and go on through David Wiesner's work: Flotsam, Tuesday, Mr. Wuffles, etc. There are many others as well. Our newest favorite is The Farmer and the Clown, by Marla Frazee. ~ Carol
lonely farmer stands, gazing across his field as a circus train chugs
by. Suddenly an object falls from the back of the train and the farmer
runs to see what it is. To his surprise, it's a clown--a toddler, who
immediately gives the farmer a hug. Reluctantly, the farmer takes the
smiling clown's hand and heads home. After all, the circus train is long
gone. Thus begins The Farmer and the Clown, a charming wordless picture book from one of our favorite children's author and illustrator, Marla Frazee (think Everywhere Babies and All the World, as well as her illustrations for the Clementine series and Boss Baby).
As the clown and farmer get to know one another, there is a big smile on the clown's face; he and the farmer talk and eat dinner. However, when it's time to wash up before bed, the farmer sees the smile was only the clown's make up, and there's a very sad toddler standing before him. Something must be done to turn the tide!
The farmer reverses roles and becomes the clown. It works! Soon the little clown has a real smile and is sharing chores and daily life on the farm. And for his part, the farmer also has a smile, as well as a companion. Then one day, in the distance, they hear the circus train's whistle . . .
Wordless books provide endless opportunities for adults and children to explore a story and illustrations. They offer a chance for a child to create his/her own story, and for the adult to embellish the material with abandon. The story behind The Farmer and the Clown is easily interpreted through Frazee's fanciful drawings, and its universal themes will be readily apparent to children and parents alike. ~ Mary Fran