Wordless Books are great tools for all learners, but they especially benefit students who may be struggling with reading and writing. I love to use these books with students who are learning English (ELL students). These wordless books have so many benefits for students. You can make your own wordless books to fit any student interests. I have a product in my Teachers Pay Teachers store with 13 different themes and unlimited possibilities!
What is a Wordless Book?
So what even is a wordless book? Well there are two kinds, and I want to make sure you understand which kind I am talking about today. There are wordless books that you read – these are great for teaching reading, writing, and storytelling. But, they are not what I am talking about today. I am talking about wordless books where students write their own words to pictures that are already in a book. Here is an example.
Why Wordless Books?
Wordless books benefit all students, but especially students who are struggling with reading and/or writing. You can target so many different skills so all students can benefit from this activity and all students have an access point, regardless of ability level.
Ways to Use Wordless Books
With beginning writers, there are several ways to use wordless books to target instruction. Beginning writers can dictate for you the sentence that they want on the page (so already they are practicing planning out and telling their stories). Then you can write their sentence in highlighter and have them trace over the highlighted letters.
Share writing is a great small group strategy that works so well with wordless books. I have used them where each student is responsible for writing one sight word (a sight word we have already learned). As a group we come up with a simple and repeated pattern (we think about how the pages go together, what they have in common, and what we could say about each page) and then pass the books around to each write their own word. Students will be so proud of the fact that they wrote a whole book! This also breaks down the daunting task of writing stories for beginning writers to just writing one word. But with that one word, they are seeing how the writing process moves from planning to writing.
The writing process can be very overwhelming for some children. They have to think of an idea (which can be very difficult for some students), plan out their writing, draw detailed pictures, write words or sentences, reread their writing, then finally, revise and edit it. Any part of that process can stop a child in their tracks and prevent them from writing. Using wordless books takes out most of these steps so that children can really focus on the actual planning and writing stages. The idea for the story and the illustrations are already there. Depending on the skills you want to teach your reluctant writer, a wordless book could help target it while taking away the stress of some of the writing steps.
Connecting to Reading
After students have written their wordless book, connecting it to reading is a seamless way to support students in their overall literacy development. Students can take the books they have written and add them to their book bins/bags. They will be able to read the books (which will make them feel confident in themselves as a reader) because they are reading the words that they came up with. Also, because the books are paper, it is really easy to add dots or underline words to help model and reinforce one-to-one correspondence. Also, because their words are so focused on the picture in the story, reading the books helps reinforce the strategy of using the pictures to help read the words.
Wordless books are open-ended enough that they can target almost any writing skill for students with any amount of literacy development. They are a great strategy to help support students in writing, which can transfer over to supporting reading instruction.
If you want to try out wordless books, I am including an exclusive freebie with one of my books!
Looking for more help with reluctant writers? Check out my blog posts on class books, teaching the alphabet, and authentic high frequency word practice.