Friday, May 24, 2013

Learning to Read with a Wordless Book

Spring has sprung!  Now that winter's over, the child from author and illustrator Lita Judge's Red Sled is in for another surprise in Judge's follow up book, Red Hat.

The story opens with a thorough "swish swash swish swash" washing of the titular red knit hat.  The child then hangs the hat on a clothes line to dry.  Soon,  a bear cub spies the hat with a familiar "Hrmmm?" and the baby bear wastes no time in snatching the hat from the line. (Could this be the cub of the curious bear from Red Sled?) As baby bear runs along, more baby forest animals join in the fun and the hat begins to unravel. This nearly wordless book leaves a lot of room for spontaneous discussion that won't interrupt the flow of the story.  On each page the action is highlighted with a simple sound effect that's often quite funny.

Wordless picture books are a great way for children to enhance their visual literacy skills. Being able to extract clues from pictures is a valuable skill in and of itself, and it is also a great strategy for emergent readers first struggling with text.  The give-and-take feedback that comes from discussing the illustrations builds vocabulary since the discussion will likely include words that would not normally come up in everyday conversations.

Judge gives her tale a comforting wrap-up.  The child's reaction to discovering the ruined hat is puzzlement rather than anger or sadness, and the next scene shows the child contentedly re-knitting the red strand of yarn.  The child models a great response to a potentially stressful situation, and the book provides an opportunity to talk with your child about some strategies for handling life's inevitable upsets.

You can borrow Red Hat along with other titles by Lita Judge and also other wordless picture books at your local library branch.  Happy reading!

Miss Robin

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