Teacher's Bookish Pick

Teacher’s Pick: November 2016

Okay, this month’s book is really exciting! Something really different for me, as I haven’t really used a wordless picture book in the classroom before, but the results have been really fantastic. Here we go…

Title: Journey

Author: Aaron Becker

Published by: Walker Books, 2014

Age Range: 5+

My Class: Scotland P4 age, all around 8 years old.

journey

Journey encourages you, the reader, to tell the story. It is a wordless picture book, meaning there is lots of room for discussion about how the book is pulled together and what is actually going on. Aaron Becker has created a wonderful story without using words; his pictures are sublime and really heartfelt. I’m so happy I came across this story (and it’s actually a trilogy, so I can’t wait to get my hands on the second and third in the series)!

Why am I reading this book?

This term has been a little bit of a tricky one for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a really short term – only 6 weeks in total – and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for a topic. I taught the same age last year and we did a Festivals and Celebrations topic, which was fun but felt a little bitty: enter the book study. But then came the question of what book I wanted to focus on?! When I came across Journey, which had elements of the adventure out festivals, I was totally on board!

journey1

How are we using this book in the classroom?

SO MANY WAYS! This book is such an incredible resource to use in the classroom and can be adapted to fit with a lot of different themes.

  • We have lots of brilliant discussions! This is a brilliant book for looking at analysis of the text and picture clues in particular. You probably wouldn’t be able to delve so deeply into this without a wordless picture book. The children love looking at the pictures and guessing what is happening to the main character. They feel as if they are moving the plot along, which they actually are. It has been a great way for them to develop their book comprehension skills.
  • We had developed oral storytelling techniques. Their talking and listening skills are really being tested by this book, in such a positively challenging way. They are finding out what is important when telling a story and how to use the pictures to influence the story they are telling.
  • We have had fun using the ‘through the door’ element in our own creative writing, with a real emphasis on setting. My class are great at plot and characterisation, but the focus on setting is really improving their overall creative writing skills.
  • Drama, drama, drama. This book lends itself so well to drama activities. We’ve had a big focus on movements of the body and facial expressions to tell the story of a character.
  • Finally, towards the end of our book study we’re going to link with Electricity outcomes and use the many methods of travelling as a stimulus for our own electric modes of transport. I can’t wait to see what they come up with!

journey2

Some people say that picture books are for younger children – what can possibly be learned from a book with no words? However, I’ve found that my class have responded really well to the fact that the story is something they need to create themselves, and the core literacy skills of talking, listening, reading and writing have all been strengthened through the experiences in Journey. So I’d advise this to be used by all ages – you just need to adapt the activities to suit your learners.

Have you got any other wordless picture book recommendations? I’d love to know! And what other books are people using in their classrooms?

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