Wordless books hold a special place for children in early literacy and in early writing. By "reading" a wordless book with a young child you open their imagination to the description and allow them to use their own words, building their vocabulary. For older children just exploring the idea of putting words to page, a wordless book can spark a creative project.
The Farmer and the Clown, by Marla Frazee, is a new title that wordlessly illustrates the relationship of a little clown who falls from a passing train and the lonely farmer who brings him home. Muted tones perfectly capture the wide, open prairie and without a word it is easy to see the friendship that develops.
Jerry Pinkney is a Caldecott medalist whose detailed illustrations fill many pages of well known children's titles. The Grasshopper and the Ants is the third in a series of Aesop's fables following The Lion and the Mouse and The Tortoise and the Hare. Pinkney brings these tales to life with his beautiful, detailed paintings and few words.
In this fable the lively grasshopper is always ready with a song and some fun while the ants are busy preparing for winter. Be sure to find the pages with the ants underground and the grasshopper, outside in the snow.
The next title, Sequoia, honors Arbor Day and Poetry Month, with words by Tony Johnston and paintings by Wendell Minor. Simple verse gives life to this great tree and follows it throughout the year. Additional information on the tree is given at the end with thanks to Stephen C. Sillett and Marie E. Antoine of Humboldt State University, researchers whose photos were used by the artist for illustrations.
Tall trees inspire tall structures and engineers are constantly trying to top the tallest buildings around the world. In 1889 the Eiffel Tower was the world's tallest building. George Ferris, a mechanical engineer from Pittsburgh, was determined to build a taller structure for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Mr. Ferris and His Wheel tells the story of this project and its success.
Sidebars give details to the project and the new inventions of the time, including the use of electricity. Read this book and imagine the excitement as a new century was about to begin.
Yes, guys do read!
Often a short story is all you need, if time is limited or you don't want to get into a longer novel. Jon Scieszka is well know know for his earlier picture books, including The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, the Time Warp Trio series for older readers, and the beginning reader Trucktown series.
Scieszka has championed reluctant readers with an emphasis on boys on his website Guys Read. He is now editing a series of books that collect short stories by well known authors, including M.T. Anderson, Walter Dean Myers, Anthony Horowitz, Steve Sheinkin and Candace Fleming, to name a few.
These collections follow a theme, beginning with "Funny Business" and as the title implies it is loaded with stories that will keep you laughing. "Thriller" is the second volume and includes tales of mystery and suspense. Volume 5, "True Stories" brings non-fiction to life with biographies, essays, travel stories and more by some of the best authors for youth.
Pick one up and check out the website for links to Jon Scieszka's bio, his blog, and reviews of more great books.