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Wordless picture books are becoming more popular with people of all ages. Why do you think this is?

Recently we had a wonderful time meeting with Elizabeth Laird, author of countless novels for children and adults as well as a keen collector of folk tales. We interviewed her on what she thought about wordless picture books, and she had some lovely ideas! You can find the video and transcript below.

One of the delightful things about modern children’s picture books is the wordless picture book, which is a fairly modern idea, to have books without words, or maybe very few minimal words, and I think that’s a very interesting development.

Elizabeth Laird

Some people think that they’re not proper books, but I think that’s partly because adults have become lazy in reading to children. They want someone to tell them what to say, and they have stopped telling children stories out of their heads, and that’s a great shame; because in fact, a story that your mother or father or granny tells you when you’re cuddled up on their lap, that’s out of their own head, that’s not from a book, that’s not read out to them, has far more impact, I think. However beautiful the writing in the book, stuff that comes out of the beloved adult’s mouth, maybe helped along by pictures in a book, is much much more meaningful.

So I think we need to be educated in how to use wordless picture books, and adults need to be allowed to have the confidence to embroider what they’re saying. The picture is there, let them use it as a starting point and create the story, create the words to go with the picture book, and not be afraid to invent! Because I think we’ve lost – we’re being fed so much now from computers, from television; input, constantly getting input of all kinds, and people have lost the sense that they can actually themselves tell stories and create stories, and the wordless picture book is a way of encouraging that so I’m all for it.

One very nice one is coming out soon published by Tiny Owl, and it’s going to be called The Lion Tattoo.

  • Find previous responses to our question here and here

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