Books for young kids are supposed to have two things: Words and pictures. The pictures tell part of the story, and the words fill in the rest. Two books have recently entered our house that buck that trend, and which both Rose and I love.
The first is a book with no words–also known as a “wordless picture book”–called Journey, by Aaron Becker. In wordless picture books, the illustrations tell the entire story, and Becker is a master. Journey is about a bored girl who finds a magical piece of chalk that lets her journey to a fantastic land. Eventually she finds her way back to the real world, where she finds a new friend. The illustrations in Journey are bright and colorful and fun to look at, and they don’t ever seem to get old. The best part about reading the book with Rose is hearing her tell the story each time. The first time we read it together, I asked her what she thought was happening on each page as we constructed the story together. By the time we had read it a few times, she was able to narrate the events on her own.
It generally goes something like this:
Rose: “She drawed a door with the chalk. Then she went through it into the, what’s that called?”
Rose: “The forest. And then she came to a river, and she made a boat, and she got in the boat.”
And so on.
The other book that bucks the trend does so in another way, and maybe you can guess based on the title of this book: The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. Exactly as the title implies, there are no pictures in this book. Some pages are filled with words splashed all over the page. Some pages have just a couple of sentences. What makes this book special is having a reader who is willing to commit to reading it out loud and having fun with it. The conceit of the book is that whoever is reading it has to read every single thing on the page, no matter what. So that means that I end up saying things like “I am a monkey who taught myself to read,” while Rose is in hysterics. You can see the author (who you may recognize from The Office) read some of it to a group of elementary school kids.