When parents read wordless books, they create rich, complex stories from those illustrations and end up talking with their toddlers about all kinds of things. For example, instead of asking their kids to “show me the house,” they ask, “What does our house look like? Who lives there? What can you see when you look out the window?” As a result, researchers have found, toddlers end up with a broader vocabulary and better word comprehension, and they learn how to use language to describe events in their lives. There’s nothing wrong with reading picture books with simple words. Clearly, it’s smart to introduce your toddler to words at an early age and explain how they can use words to describe themselves, others, and the world around them. But as they get closer to school-age, it’s important to expose them to more sophisticated language, and strong wordless books do that. As Professor Daniele O’Neill,
the author of one recent study, puts it, “Reading picture storybooks with kids exposes them to the kind of talk that’s really important for children to hear, especially as they transition to school.” What are some great wordless books you should consider reading with your toddler? Here are three modern classics that’ll inspire great conversations: Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley This book has beautiful photographs of dioramas and tells the story of a stuffed animal named Frank, who finds the egg of a hummingbird, takes care of it at home, and then returns it to its nest to hatch. Your kids will relate to how vulnerable the small hummingbird is, and you’ll find yourself speaking with them about taking care of others. Inside Outside, by Lizi Boyd This wonderfully illustrated book will stimulate many conversations about
the fun things to do inside and outside your home and during the changing seasons. Featuring a kid who plays with various animals (a bird, cat, dog, mouse, and a turtle), you can talk about those animals, where they live, and more. Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage This is the story about the adventures of an adorable walrus who has escaped a zoo, with the zookeeper hot on its trails. Along the way, the walrus meets different people, including artists, firefighters, and shopkeepers. This fun book can lead to conversations about the different jobs people have and what your kids would like to do when they grow up. Tanni Haas, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences, and Disorders at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College.
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Volume 7, Issue 12