I am embarrassed to say that, until last year, I had never read a wordless book with my students. And in all honesty, I first read one completely by chance. A colleague was reading aloud stacks of picture books that had made Caldecott 2020 prediction lists. After they finished reading all the books, her students would vote for the one they thought should receive the award. When I saw how engaged her class was with the process, I jumped right on that bandwagon and graciously accepted each glorious book when she finished reading it to share with my own second graders.
And so that is how I ended up with Fly! by Mark Teague in my hands one hurried morning five minutes before the kids walked in. While I generally try to preview books before I read them aloud, I had complete faith that my wonderful colleague had passed along a great read and didn’t open it until all of my students were sitting in front of me for our daily read aloud. After three pages, I realized it was a wordless book and quickly changed my typical read aloud strategy. The book went under the document camera and my sweet second graders crowded around the Smartboard so they could examine each vibrant illustration up close.
Over the next thirty minutes, my students giggled as we read about a mama bird trying to convince her baby that it is time to learn how to fly so he can migrate with the rest of their flock. Baby bird, on-the-other-hand, has different plans. Why fly when he can drive, take a train, float in a hot air balloon, or just ride a skateboard instead? My students loved stopping at each spread to imagine the dialogue between mama and baby and act out each scene, changing their voices and facial expressions to match the tone of the page.
After reading Fly!, I reserved several other wordless picture books at the library with hopes of creating book clubs to read and discuss them together. Unfortunately, COVID hit and those books remained in my classroom until the local libraries began taking returns in the late spring. But I am adding Fly! to my wordless stack this year and, while I’ll be teaching a class that is entirely remote, I plan to do a similar project where students can meet virtually in small groups, discuss the text, and write dialogue for it.
What is your favorite wordless book?