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What stories will your child tell?

By Alice Ahearn*

The Little Eli collection

What do you remember the most about your favourite picture book? If you’re anything like us, the best bits were always the illustrations – pictures that you could get lost in, interpret and re-interpret, tell a new story about every time you looked at them.

When my brother was a toddler, one of his favourite bedtime books was an illustrated alphabet: a book with no story or characters – just lots and lots of pictures. The picture for the letters S and T showed a teddy bear standing on a flight of stairs, and my brother always thought that the bear was about to fall. Consequently, his name for the whole book became ‘bear fall’.

Children connect to images. An adult might look at that picture and just see a bear on some stairs, but a young child immediately added a story, considering what the bear was doing there, and what might happen next. And he was so struck by it that the entire book became known in terms of not what it was – a book about letters and numbers – but the story he’d made up to go with it.

The messy adventures of Little Eli

The beauty of a picture book with no words at all is this freedom for readers to make up their own narratives. Little Eli, the adventures of a creative and tenacious dragonfly, is a completely wordless series, but the potential for children to tell their own stories is boundless. A child can find their own favourite picture of Eli’s ambitious constructions – and the resulting mess! – and think up any number of ways to add words to what’s on the page. Allowing children the time and freedom to form their own interpretations of images is vital to developing creativity and visual literacy. And the impact that wordless books like Little Eli can have on that can be invaluable.

Little Eli is published in early October. Pre-order your copy here.


*Alice Ahearn is the publisher’s assistant at Tiny Owl Publishing



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