13 May 2013

Reading from the Wordless: A Case Study on the Use of Wordless Picture Books

Reading from the Wordless: A Case Study on the Use of  Wordless Picture Books

Abstract 
For centuries people have conveyed meaning through the use of visual images, without the aid of written text. Consequently, wordless picture books have become a distinct genre within the world of literature. The wordless book is unique in that its content must be communicated solely through the use of illustrations. The reading of wordless picture book is an open-ended process in which viewers read stories by bringing their background experiences and personal histories to bear on the visual images they encounter within the text. This study looks at the use of wordless picture books on a seven-year old male nonreader. The investigation focuses on the exploration of the child’s responses to a selection of narrative wordless picture books. This study suggests that wordless picture books are a good source for analyzing a child’s early and emergent literacy. Acknowledging the importance of wordless picture books may deepen the definitions of emergent literacy and broaden our approaches to the teaching of reading.

Keywords: Wordless picture books, Early literacy, Reading

Background of the study 
The use of visual images without the aid of written text as means of communicating and conveying messages has been part of people’s lives for centuries (Considine, 1987; Heins, 1987; Whalen, 1994). In fact, our day to day survival depends on our understanding of the meaning that visual images convey. For instance, it would be impossible to drive on the road without the ability to interpret the road signs, and it would even be more difficult to get your way around places if you cannot comprehend the common public signs. “Children born into the first years of the twenty-first century are more likely to possess richer and better understanding of visual imagery and its modes of deployment than any other generation in the history of humankind. This is because their world is filled with images” (Lewis, 2001, p.59). These images could be moving or still, and they could be in combination with texts and sounds. This is the world in which they must function. Competence with images is now considered as a necessity in life (Lewis, 2001). “Increasingly such competence will be part of the context that young children bring to their readings of picture books, and however incomplete and partial those readings may be, they frequently differ in interesting ways from those made by parents, teachers, critics and academics.They sometimes see more and they often see differently” (Lewis, 2001, p. 60).

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