Wonderful World of Wordless Books
by Susan Litt
Wordless books are a wonderful tool to use in your ESL classroom. Combine your students' love of storytelling to stimulate their imaginations and develop their writing and reading skills.
Wordless books are flexible in their use. They can be used to fit the needs of your ESL group. Shorter simpler stories will be written by lower level groups while longer more intricate ones will be written by more advanced students. They are also excellent for use in multilevel groups.
Choosing the right book for your group is important. There are many books available from which to choose. There are books related to science, social studies, health, literature, or books just for fun. The book you choose must present the students with experiences that are meaningful and interesting to them and that will generate a good deal of oral language.
Choosing a Wordless Book for Your ESL Class
Below are listed just a few books that can be found in your school or public library:
- The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
- Do you want to be my friend? by Eric Carle
- Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie De Paola
- Paddy Goes Traveling by John Goodall
- Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins
- The Mystery of Giant Footprints by Fernando Krahn
- Two Moral Tales by Mercer Mayer
How to Use Wordless Books
1. After choosing the book you want to use, preview it with the group. Ask questions that will elicit the students' thoughts. Have them observe what is happening. Encourage them to listen to what the other students have to say. Come up with a core vocabulary for the story. All of this will help strengthen the students' acquisition skills.
2. Next, compose the story. The story needs a title, which you might want to do after the story is written. The children should vote for names of the characters. As the students dictate the story, you may want to modify their answers to conform to Standard English rules. After each sentence is written it should be read. This will help them to clarify what's been dictated. Writing the story does not take one session. Therefore, it is very important that when you stop mid-story, you reread what's been written, all the way back to the beginning. This process of recursion reinforces reading skills and helps ESL students understand the flow of the story.
3. When the story is complete, it is time to read it. First the teacher should read it all the way through. Then the group can read with the teacher before students take turns reading individually.
4. When the story is completed, involve parents by typing it and sending it home for the children to read to them. Have parents sign it and write a comment.
Ideas for Follow-up Activities
Follow -up activities are extremely important to the process of using wordless books. There are many possibilities. Here are just a few:
- ask comprehension/critical thinking questions such as who, what, where, when, why, and what if
- develop sight vocabulary - have students underline a specific word that's been used many times in the story (you can have them use different color highlighters)
- make flashcards; put them in ABC order
- teach a grammatical structure - have students highlight all the past tense verbs that end in "ed" or find all the irregular verbs
- review phonics - have students find all the words that begin with a particular sound.
- give a dictation - have students write down words or short sentences that you dictate
- teach synonyms and antonyms - have students give the antonyms and synonyms for a variety of words
- develop sequencing skills - have students put sentences in the correct order
I find using wordless books very rewarding in my classroom. My students look forward to doing them because it gives them so much success and it is so much fun. I hope that you find it as rewarding as they do.
© 1998-2009 Judie Haynes, www.everythingESL.net