As a great admirer of picture books, the opportunity to enjoy a good wordless book is never passed up. Easy reading? Absolutely! How can this be if there are no words? Good question and the best answer is: the imagination is stimulated to become a tool that can generate words, stories and action. Precisely what picture books demand of their viewers. It's a unique opportunity to collaborate with the author on a story that was meant for just the two of you. How cool is that!
One of the best wordless picture books for 2011 is Barbara Lehman's The Secret Box. It's a wonderful tale about a timeless treasure that is hidden in the attic of an old home. Readers are introduced to the first person to hide the box in the first few pages. As time goes on, new occupants of the home find the box and discover the treasure map left behind. A magical and wonderful trip ensue for the three friends who have found the secret box. The right thing to do is to return the box to its original hiding place for new occupants of the house to enjoy the same magic. The artwork is simple, warm and inviting. The stories that will come out of the box will vary with each reader, but they will all be fascinating to hear.
For story time programs with a little kick, this book does especially well with a small group of children, no more than six. Give each child a number, in this case 1-6. The child who has number one, they will begin the story in their own words. The next child, number two, will continue telling the story with the second page, and this continues on until number six. Then the children start over in taking turns in telling the story. This is a wonderful way to not only stir the imagination, but also encourage the children to listen to the story, as well as look at the details of the artwork. If the children are old enough, test them to see if they remember the parts of their shared story by randomly going back to a page to ask, "What did we say happened with our friend in the picture?"
Older children can benefit from wordless books too. A clever way to make it interesting is to add music to the storytime/interactive program. Ahead of time, choose several music cds that vary in style, and a mix of vocal and instrumental. When the program begins, let the children not only tell the story, but experiment with different music cds to find the "right" music for the pictures. Write down the songs they choose and the story they spun. Once this is done, burn the songs in page order to a disc. At the next get together, tell the children you have a wonderful new story to tell them. Pull out the book, play the CD and read the "children's" story. To go the extra mile, have the authors sign their work. Place the music cd along with a player, headphone and book in an area where other patrons may want to hear the budding storytellers' story. What better marketing can you get for the library with this project?
Of course this can be done with any good wordless picture book. Below is a list of good titles to choose from to create a personal storytime with children.
Polo and the Magic Flute Regis Faller
South Patrick McDonnel
Wave Suzy Lee
Museum Trip Barbara Lehman
Flotsam David Wiesner
Jack and the Night Visitors Paul Schories
Sidewalk Circus Paul Fleischman
Yellow Balloon Charlotte Dematons
Tuba Lessons T.C. Bartlett
Good Dog, Carl Alexandra Day