No Words Needed

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.  Knowledge is limited.  Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein-

And, a picture really is worth a thousand words~that light the fire of imagination.  What if there were books that could do just that?  Books with pictures only, deeply rooted in vivid imagination, and in the form of a story?

Yes, there are such books.  David Wiesner has mastered the art of wordless storytelling.  Think they’re for children?  Think again!

The David Wiesner exhibit at the Eric Carle Museum

Years ago I discovered the book, Flotsam.  A boy is at the beach, an old underwater camera washes up on the shore- with a roll of film inside.  He develops the film only to discover…

A picture of a picture, of a picture, and so on.  This leads to what is perhaps really beneath the ocean, and a sequential history of sorts.  The art is incredible.  Not surprising, as it is the story itself.  Images of what if  abound to plant the seeds of imagination.

History goes back to the turn of the century.  I love history as much as imagination.  The discussion and conversations about the children in the book, pictured back to the turn of the century, emulates just what reading aloud does, adding vocabulary and opening new doors of discovery.  Talking and thinking.  Brain building.  Soul building.  The illustrations stand on their own as a gateway to…wherever the mind can go.

On my way home, after seeing so many incredible fish, this is what I saw.  A fish in the sky!

Wordless books are sometimes my uphill battle with adults.  Many parents are so locked into the words telling you the story, that they can’t see the forest for the trees, or the immense opportunities to unlock their child’s brain and stimulate vocabulary.  Hey, the reader and listener have to talk, really talk.

All I can say is, “You have to read the book!”

Another remarkable David Wiesner book is Tuesday.  On a Tuesday, something happens to frogs.  The illustrations are a slow growth into an adventure that any and every child (and adult) delights in and understands.  Marvelous in imagination!  The ending has a terrific twist.

The day after I saw the exhibit at the Eric Carle Museum, Ryan happened to bring his frog to Summer Camp, a perfect replica of David Wiesner’s frogs.  I said, “Ryan, there is a book about your frog!”  I grabbed his hand and we went to the library at school.  Well, we actually ran.  I found Tuesday, and we dove into the book together.  Oh, how we read, talked…you get the picture.  Ryan said, “This is the best book I have ever read.”  He meant it.  He ‘got it’.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in David Wiesner, Early Education, Einstein, Eric Carle, Imagination, picture books, reading, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

78 Responses to No Words Needed

  1. MC Clark says:

    With imagination, words aren’t always necessary, especially when the books are as beautifully illustrated as the ones you showed.
    There’s an old feature cartoon titled The Snowman that uses no words. I’ve included a link if you care to give it a look.

  2. Ritu says:

    I have the Tuesday book too! Wordless books are brilliant!

  3. beetleypete says:

    Both those books look wonderful, Jennie. As you say, they are not just for children, but magical for adults too!
    Best wishes, Pete.

  4. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Jennie Fitzkee introduces to the art of storytelling without words.. #recommended #David Weisner

  5. Oh, what a very lovely post, Jennie! And how wonderful that Ryan was instantly hooked! I didn´t know of David Wiesner´s books before but you can bet that I´m going to get my hand on some copies now! The illustrations look fabulous! Thank you for he tip! xxx

  6. Oh Sally, this might be the perfect thing that I read this brilliant post as I believe it’s a phenomenal way for me to help a friend handle an issue with a verbal and nonverbal child to bridge the gap and explain how we are all different in magnificent ways when one tween is not able to communicate through spoken words but communicates via other means! Oh Sally a HUGE thank you!!!

  7. Oh jeez I am an idiot – thank YOU Jennie too 😂

  8. Wonderful Jennie.. Wordless books are great.. And takes me back to my comic book days while there were only a few balloon comments, I would devour the picture story telling 🙂
    Enjoy your day xx

  9. John Fioravanti says:

    A fascinating post, Jennie! I’m not familiar with these books – thanks for the introduction!

  10. The illustrations look magical, Jennie. Thanks so much for the Wiesner recommendation. We have lots of Peter Spier picture books and I love the way the imagination takes over when there are no words. Lovely post, my friend.

  11. ~M says:

    These look like some great books. Oh to be able to illustrate like that! What a talent that would be! And the quote by Albert Einstein is one of my favorites. I think I quote that one more than any others. 😉

  12. Thank you for this marvellous post, Jennie. Your wonderful enthusiasm for teaching makes me so happy.

  13. Micki Peluso says:

    For children especially, pictures are worth a 1000 words. Well stated.,

  14. frenchc1955 says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post!

  15. Di says:

    How special Jennie. I haven’t actually come across many wordless books but after reading your post, I can fully see their merit.
    Your conclusion was lovely…
    Thank you 🙋🏻💐

  16. Norah says:

    This is great, Jennie. Wordless picture books provide wonderful opportunities for parents (or teachers) and children to play with imagination and language together, creating their own stories for the pictures to tell.

  17. A boy’s gotta have a good buddy in his frog…Ryan and his frog…from book to head to heart!

  18. Great to meet you Jennie. Just read you guest post.
    I totally agree with your post here. Pictures can indeed tell a 1000 words.
    Brian Selznick’s books Wonderstruck and The invention of Hugo Cabret and beautifuly illustrated and also told with words. Very special reads. Lorelle. 😊

  19. minty8g says:

    What a beautifully written article. And I love the addition of the fish in the sky. I believe fostering the imagination is so important especially when kids hit school age and their creativity has to be kept in check in order to conform in a classroom setting. Love this.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you! I couldn’t believe I caught a photo of the fish in the sky! Imagination is where it all begins, for sure. As they hit school age and have to conform, they can still get lost in a book and keep the fire of imagination going. That’s why reading aloud at a young age is so important. So glad you enjoyed the blog post!

  20. David’s illustrations are amazing. So many great illustrators are doing picture books today. The exhibit must have been wonderful. And then to see that giant fish in the sky–wow!

    • Jennie says:

      It was wonderful, Marcia. Thank you. Yes, that fish in the sky! The museum picked up the post and put it on their FB page, then they emailed me to say that NEMA- New England Museum Association (new to me)- picked it up for their page. So glad that David Wiesner’s art is getting exposure! Yes, he is amazing.

  21. balroop2013 says:

    HI Jennie, i hopped over from Sue’s blog and found this amazingly inspiring post. Love your reflections about wordless books and agree absolutely. 🙂

  22. minty8g says:

    Reblogged this on The Toyshop Dance and other Songs and Dances for young children and commented:
    I love this post by Jennie. It is beautifully written and opens up a new line of communication. There is nothing like unlocking the depths of a child’s imagination. Let children be children!

  23. Thanks for sharing this. I had no awareness of Weisner’s work, and it’s just marvelous.:)

  24. Once again you did it to me….you made me once again want to not only travel to that awesome Museum you keep talking about, but to meet you face to face and for now read both of those books and experience them. Books like the ones you described here are experienced, not just simply read. I’m going to share this on if you want to email me some of the images I’ll make the story come to life on my end, giving you photo credits of course.
    You have an incredible way of putting difficult concepts into easy to understand terms.

    Paulette Le Pore Motzko

  25. The pictures are adorable and the post is wonderful, so uplifting when we really need uplifting! Thank you Jennie! Karen 🙂

  26. JoDee Luna says:

    I’m also in the field of education and really appreciate your post, highlighting literature with amazing illustrations!

  27. Kedy says:

    I have enjoyed it. You’ve given a nice information and useful for me. Looking forward to next.

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