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A tutor’s experience with wordless picture books

Meghan Sullivan

Buy Chalk Eagle

By Meghan Sullivan

Alongside my work at Tiny Owl, I am also an English tutor, and one of the things which breaks my heart is the lack of faith I see children have in their own abilities. They don’t believe that they can read and write well when they absolutely can. One thing a lot of the children that I tutor struggle with is creative writing. When they are faced with the task of creating a piece of writing plucked from their own imagination they are terrified. Using a wordless picture book like Chalk Eagle in my lessons would give students the much-needed confidence to create their own stories. Instead of seeing a scary blank page which they must fill, they see beautiful illustrations and an adventure to go on. The template is already there for them.

The magical thing about Chalk Eagle, and other wordless books, is that they still give children the space to become the creators of the story. Chalk Eagle tells us that the young boy goes on adventures, but it leaves it up to the reader to say what these adventures are. Children use the story on the page to create their own. It is a cooperative effort making them feel less alone in writing. It’s not so much hard work anymore.

The boy and his chalk eagle fly together

I teach a lot of children with English as a second language, and they are scared that they don’t understand the language well enough to tell stories in it. They focus so much on getting the right words that they lose sense of the story. This doesn’t have to happen if you use a book like Chalk Eagle. Children can make the story without having to find the words to express it. They can tell it orally, through art, and then ,perhaps, through writing.

We often underestimate children’s ability to create stories, which leads to children underestimating themselves. But children have the most powerful imaginations. Their capacity to create worlds down to the most breathtakingly tiny detail is incredible, and this is something that must be nourished by the things that we do with and teach our children.

Meghan Sullivan is the publisher’s assistant at Tiny Owl.

  • Read five reasons your school needs Chalk Eagle
  • Check out a review of Chalk Eagle from a secondary school teacher
  • Catch-up on our wordless picture book campaign

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