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  • Sarah Buckland

A picture is worth a thousand words

This old English adage is pertinent to my philosophy around graphic novels and wordless picture books. You can gain great insights into your child's comprehension whilst listening to them 'read' the story. The students that I work with have a lot of anxieties. My assessing of the child's skills and knowledge requires a gentle and non-invasive approach. I prefer to use wordless picture books to acquire an understanding of their competency, with prediction and inferring being two very important comprehension abilities. The benefits to this approach are twofold: the student enjoys the read and I get to build a trusting and lasting rapport with them. A double win!


My assessing of the child's skills and knowledge requires a gentle and non-invasive approach.

Educating children to decode when reading - using the latest reading science strategies - is part of my teaching as well. However, this does not apply to wordless picture books!!



Talking about what you can see in the story supports conversational skills like turn-taking which also supports social skills.

You've probably read many books with words in them, but have you read one without words? The illustrations are marvellous because the story is told through the pictures. Many students often enjoy creating their own original stories to accompany the illustrations.


There's many benefits to reading wordless picture books. They can:

  • sharpen the reader's prediction skills by using the cover of the book

  • be used to do a fun and easy walk-through initial read

  • allow the child to relish in the beautiful artwork of the illustrations

  • help the reader talk about what they see in the story. Note: this supports conversational skills like turn-taking which also supports social skills. This is important, especially for those students with expressive language needs.

  • allow the child to use their own words to tell the story - this supports oral language skills

  • help the adult to gain more information about the child's understanding of the story by using the 'w' questions: who?, what?, where?, when? and why?

  • improve the child's story-telling skills after multiple reads

Here are a few of my favourite wordless picture books that I use in my lessons:


Window by Jeannie Baker (1991)

Zoom by Istvan Banyai (1995) Tuesday by David Wiesner (2012)

Journey by Aaron Becker (2013)

Quest by Aaron Becker (2014)

Bee & Me by Alison Jay (2016)

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