This post was going to be a joyous “Sharing -books-with-kids-ROCKS” kind of post, not related to work or the classroom, a suitable post for the weekend. But the teacher in me can’t look at a children’s book without thinking about sharing the joy in class…
Yesterday I stumbled upon a short post praising the use of wordless books in class “Using Wordless Books with English Learners” by Herrmann. It stopped me short, with my finger still on the mouse.
I can’t believe I forgot about this. I haven’t thought about such books for years and haven’t been recommending the use of them. Wonderful books that tell an entire story in pictures, nary a word in sight.
So I went to the bookshelf and found the four books that I own.
“Frog on his Own” by Mercer Mayer was a hit with my own kids and in class. This amusing story of a pet frog having adventures in a local park was very clear to my sons and they enjoyed telling the tale. From a very early age children know that in “traditional” books their parents are reading the words to them but here it is permissible to tell the tale a bit differently each time, and for the child to “read” to the parent. This also worked well in class when I taught grades 3-6. Students wrote up the sequence of events, invented the text or the dialogue. Pure educational FUN!
My own sons loved the books “Moonlight” and “Sunshine” by Jan Ormerod much more than the previous one, but I couldn’t take them to class. These books are a gem for parents because of the combination of humor and reality of life at home with a child. Moonlight tells the story of a little girl who doesn’t want to go to bed while Sunshine depicts the same girl who plays ” the big girl” and looks after herself while her parents sleep in. We loved everything about these books!
However, the heroine of these books is clearly around five years old (okay, maybe first grade, maybe) and there was no way my fifth graders at the time would accept such a book.
Which reminded me why the books were forgotten.
The first three are too childish for high-school…
I do have one wordless book considered suitable for older readers “Anno’s Journey” by Mitsumasa Anno but, sad to say, I don’t get it.
The book is highly praised, it is supposed to include hidden storybook characters, visual puzzles, reference to famous paintings and more among the drawings, but I am truly embarrassed to say that I myself have identified very few. Except for the pages with the windmills, I can’t even tell which parts of the journey are supposed to depict which European country – it could all be the British countryside as far as I’m concerned. Perhaps I need a teacher’s guide for it..
If I can’t narrate it myself, or write clues for the students to read and go on a treasure hunt , I truly can’t bring it to class.
I guess my “amnesia” had a reasonable basis.
So I will now return all four books to the bookshelf, and wait for grandchildren to share them with…
6 thoughts on ““Frog on His Own” by Mayer & the JOY of Wordless Books”
Have you seen Barbara Lehman’s books? The heroes are younger than high school, but the stories are great. Or the Journey trilogy by Aaron Beckett?
No, I haven’t! Thanks for the suggestions, Walton! I will check them out!
Maybe not a story, but the Where’s Wally/Waldo? books could fall into this category perhaps?
Where’s Waldo is certainly great fun in class and has all kind of educational applications (like writing clues and descriptions). Students love it. What I had in mind are books that tell you an entire story, rich with details, only in pictures.
This is also a way to solve the problem of matching content and language level for EFL learners. There shouldn’t be any problem using a book designed for the age of the students, since the language can easily be simplified to their level.
That’s exactly it, Kara! My favorite things were those that worked for my own kids and my students!