Tiny Owl recently launched a campaign to celebrate the importance and beauty of wordless picture books. We wanted to investigate some intriguing questions – why are wordless picture books important? Do they fill a gap that books with words can’t fill? Are their messages more universal? Do they aid literacy? Or is it just that they’re so beautiful to look at?
We contacted experts in all kinds of areas of the book industry, from authors and illustrators to booksellers and journalists, as well as teachers and parents, to ask them for their thoughts. They were given this question:
Wordless picture books are becoming more popular with people of all ages. Why do you think this is?
Here are three more responses, from Luke Flowers, Richa Jha and Karen Nolan Winken.
- Find previous responses to our question here, here, here and here.
- Watch Elizabeth Laird’s interview.
My favourite aspect is hearing my daughters make up stories
Though our family don’t read quite as many wordless picture books, we certainly enjoy a good one when we find them. We recently picked up “Professional Crocodile” and LOVED it. One of my favorite aspects of a wordless picture book is hearing my daughters make up the story that they imagine goes with the story. I always love reading them and adding in funny voices to help bring the images to life. As an illustrator/author I have wanted to try my hand at this unique approach to a picture book too, so I’ve certainly been jotting down notes on stories of mine that I believe could fit this format. I hope to bring them to life one day too! We would certainly read more of them, and look forward to seeing what the Tiny Owl team create!
*Luke Flowers is an illustrator, author and puppeteer.
The silent music of a wordless picture book
A wordless picture book with its silent music can leave no one unmoved. When reading a book with words, we hear the sound form in the deep recesses of our mind. If being read aloud to, those words fall on our ears. But with a wordless book, our eyes follow the quiet dance of the illustrations, our subconscious plays out the story, our soul connects with the book; each time, in a way different from the earlier occasion. In the case of a picture book with words, it’s the characters that handhold us through the process of discovery; in a wordless one, it’s our own experiences, memories, understanding of the world around us transposed onto the visuals that play out the drama. We are in control of the pauses, the highs, the cadence, the page turns. And we are in control of how we ‘read’ the story. For a child (as for an adult), this is empowering. There’s a far deeper cognitive mechanism at work and it’s magical to allow oneself to surrender to this tranquil energy of a wordless picture book.
Karen Nolan Winkens*:
We can lose ourselves in our own interpretations
Why should picture books be confined to a younger audience? Should we not be encouraging adults to continue developing their imagination throughout their lives? Wordless books allow us to lose ourselves in our own interpretations and encourage creative thinking from a fresh perspective. Who knows how we could change the world when we let our creativity off the leash!
*Karen Nolan Winkens is an illustrator, graphic designer, writer and green blogger.
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