The Mom Look and Wordless Books: Why You Need Both!


“The mom look.”

Do you have one? I’m sure you do. I hope when you pull it out, your kids start shaking in their boots.

At least, that is what I hope my kids do when I pull out the “I can’t do anything to you right now, but if you don’t get your act together, it will not be pretty when we get home” look.

Except my kids sometimes blow it and ask in the middle of my look, “Mom, are you mad?”

I really don’t want to speak when I’m giving my mom look so if I have to back it up with a “Well, I’m not happy”…it kind of ruins it all.

My kids’ inferencing skills sometimes stink.

The Mom look. If given right, can say so many things.

Which, in a weird way, the mom look brings us to the magic of wordless books!

If “written” right, it can say so many things.

As a teacher and as a mom, so far, I have shied away from wordless books. I just didn’t see the purpose of them.

But then I learned about the benefits and now I’m adding more to our home library!

Here’s a start of the many perks: A study from Utah State University, discovered that moms use more advanced language when “reading” wordless picture books with their kids than when reading books with words.

So, a wordless book can actually build your child’s vocabulary?

First word learned: oxymoron!

Here are some other ways a wordless book can benefit young learners…and yes, there are at least ten!

Young learners can start learning book handling skills and how a book works (front cover, back cover, left page before right page, a picture has meaning) without being overpowered or overwhelmed by print.

Gain great listening skills when listening to a parent “read” the book to them. Here’s a perk: The length of the book is up to the parent. Modify the length to the attention span of your little listener.

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Learn the importance of pictures in a story: Young learners can begin to understand the importance of pictures in a story. Pictures help tell the story…in wordless books they tell the whole story, but as your little reader moves on to picture books, he will know to use pictures to help him understand the meaning of the story. Very important early reading strategy!

Learn how a good story works – there is a beginning, middle, and an end.

Learn inferencing skills by interpreting the character’s actions, facial expressions, and body language.

See themselves as a great storyteller – a great storyteller will be a great writer with a great voice!

Learn that stories can hold different meanings for different people. Wordless books allow for the freedom for many different stories depending on what the readers bring to the book. Isn’t that a fabulous lesson to learn early on? There is not always one right answer! Sorry multiple choice tests!

Gain an appreciation for art – wordless books have beautiful illustrations for readers to explore and study. It is a treat for the eyes! This makes for a fabulous introduction to do an illustrator’s study or artist’s study!

Journey by: Aaron Becker

Builds confidence in the budding readers…again, he or she can “read” a book without being overwhelmed by the print. Each read is a success!

Sparks so much imagination and creativity! A child and a parent can get lost in the pages/another world! It is mesmerizing for a reader!

So, after reading this, do you now have Keith Whitley’s song, “When You Say Nothing At All” song in your head?

Me too.

Yes…wordless books say it best when they say nothing at all! I’m ready to put more in my home library.

How about you?

Here is a list to get you started on building your library:

Flotsam by David Weisner
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
Journey by Aaron Becker
Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie de Paola
The Farmer and The Clown by Marla Frazee
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
10 Minutes Till Bedtime by Peggy Rathmann


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