"reading" books with no words. What purpose do they serve?

(27 Posts)
ZutAlorsDidier Thu 26-Sep-13 10:31:32

dd1 has just started reception. she can't read, but she knows all the letter sounds and can sound out simple words.
When reading to her at night, if it was a simple book, sometimes she will read a few sentences. Usually of course she looks at the pictures and interprets the story that way (as presumably all children do, that is what the pictures are for) - this is what she does when she "reads" to herself alone (ignoring the words usually, not always)

From school, she is being sent books with no words at all and series of illustrated spreads that tell the story. We are supposed to be "reading" these in the evenings and I am supposed to make notes about it in a book.

She did it a couple of times (interpreted the pictures to tell the story) but last night point-blank refused. She said she "doesn't like guessing books with no words". Admittedly the one we had last night was pathetic as there was no actual story - a sequence of pictures showing various scenes of a person at a beach but no narrative arc. She didn't know this though when she refused - she just didn't want to do it because there were no words. I made a half-arsed attempt to persuade her but gave up because:

- she has a great relationship with books and I don't want to fuck with it
- it was late, she was tired, so was I
- honestly, I fail to see what purpose this serves. I know she can look at illustrated spreads and interpret them, that is surely what all children do with books before they can read. I also know she is trying to read and is interested in words. So what purpose is served by going backwards and providing her a book which can give her no even accidental brush with literacy, eg, even casually recognising "cat"?

I know her teacher has seen her sounding out simple words, she has written it down somewhere on something or other.

Please tell me what I am missing?

and should I be forcing her to go through this exercise?

Yorkieaddict Thu 26-Sep-13 10:47:39

I found the books with no words frustrating as well. We got them for ages last year. I think they are probably good for children who have not been read to regularly.

It is still early in the year, and they are probably still busy getting the children settled into the new routine, rather than pushing them too hard on their reading. I would encourage her to look through them, without dwelling on them for too long, and not force it if she is not keen.

Periwinkle007 Thu 26-Sep-13 11:31:30

I would look through each book once, discuss it then let her read bits of something else and just record it all in her record book. The teachers will just be getting them all started.

my youngest came home with one the other day about learning 'the' which she knows and has done for a year. so we went through it the 2 evenings she had it, then she read other stuff at home and I recorded it. Next day she came home with one with sentences she could sound out.

Pinkglow Thu 26-Sep-13 12:13:31

I think its to 'force' you and your child to talk about whats going on in the book rather than just reading it. Even text in books doesn't describe everything that goes on in a picture so its to help with comprehention. Plus it can help develop storytelling skills which they will need for writing a bit later on.

That was my understanding anyway.

Don't force it if she refuses - honestly doing it once is fine! DD1 had a couple of these but it wasn't long before we had words. In teaching reading, there's an emphasis (or so it seems at our school) in ensuring that they are comprehending what they are reading and this is just the start.

If she can do what she's being asked even with refusal at home chances are a 'proper' book will be on its way soon.

cornflakegirl Thu 26-Sep-13 13:51:08

I don't really get the point of them either, especially if they're not very good. I know a lot of children start at our school not knowing which way to turn the pages in a book, so I kind of see the point there. But in general I think reading a good storybook together is more use.

ZutAlorsDidier Thu 26-Sep-13 13:51:53

Thank you for all your replies everyone!

simpson Thu 26-Sep-13 15:45:27

None imo, totally pointless.

maizieD Thu 26-Sep-13 16:20:17

I completely agree with you, simpson.

Pictures in 'normal' books are there to enhance the story, not tell it! Wordless books are a hangover from the 'look & say' days when the reading schemes had pictures to enable children to guess the words that they couldn't read (because they weren't actually taught how to read them!). All that stuff about them helping with comprehension is, IMO, nonsense. They won't help with understanding what meaning the words are conveying because there aren't any words!

And if they are for children whose parents don't read to them, why don't they just send home books for the parent to read to the child?

Euphemia Thu 26-Sep-13 16:55:34

The way I view it, having the child tell the story verbally prepares them for writing stories. If they can sequence a story correctly (first, then, next, after that) and give it a beginning, a middle and an end then they will find story writing easier.

simpson Thu 26-Sep-13 16:58:55

Personally I think reading a child a story and then asking them to re-tell it in their own words might help their writing more.

Or learning to structure their own ideas.

But I do have a DD who has a total aversion to school reading scheme books grin

Euphemia Thu 26-Sep-13 17:14:03

Yes, but then they have the author's ideas in their head, rather than being able to entirely use their own imagination.

NotCitrus Thu 26-Sep-13 17:21:31

I've just had a couple of these after the record-book person noted ds could read a few words but didn't want to, but liked books (spot on, pretty good analysis of him for first week in school). Suggestion was to get him to tell story and look at people's facial expressions.

I noted back that I couldn't decode any facial expressions in the book either. Actually I think a page might be missing.

And it's only 2 weeks into my first child being in Reception and I already loathe Biff, Kipper, and nauseating family...

nickelbabe Thu 26-Sep-13 17:27:00

fine to do it if she's getting something out of it, or if she's having a hard time telling a story without needing the words to be read, but it sounds like she's very frustrated with them.

In this case, I think you should get some books that are an easily decodable level (for what you know she is trying to do) and lots of pictures, and then take the other books back to school (explain in the notebook what you are doing)
Library books if you need to.
There's a series by Usborne called Very First Reading, which have words in, where the child reads the words in big type and the reader reads all the other words. There is plenty of action in the pictures for her to work out the story as well, so that part of the exercise isn't wasted.

or even something that has loads of pictures, but very few words, like Rosie's Walk.

nickelbabe Thu 26-Sep-13 17:28:21

Euphemia - by "reading" a book that's all picture,s they've already got someone else's ideas in their heads.

mrz Thu 26-Sep-13 17:33:23

None whatsoever unless they are being used to improve speech and language

Pinkpinot Thu 26-Sep-13 17:36:32

It was once pointed out to me that there will be children in reception that have never seen a book, so will need to get used to opening pages, left to right etc. sad

simpson Thu 26-Sep-13 17:39:25

Nickel - you beat me to it!! By doing stories from pictures, they are not their ideas either.

Euphemia Thu 26-Sep-13 17:45:48

With my class, it's all about speech and language.

Many of my pupils come from families where books are not shared, where no-one reads to them. They struggle to express themselves verbally. These books help them start to put their thoughts into words, and to enjoy the experience of sharing a book with someone. It also puts them in charge, rather than just being read to. My pupils loved this, and couldn't wait for the next book!

I sent home the Kipper stories over a period of three weeks, until each pupil had had each of them. The next step is books that can easily be decoded.

I have also sent school library books home. Only a few of my pupils are taken to the local library van when it comes.

I always send a note of what I expect parents to do with these books: I wouldn't expect them to just know.

Euphemia Thu 26-Sep-13 17:46:25

Nickel - you beat me to it!! By doing stories from pictures, they are not their ideas either.

Shall I just send a blank sheet of paper home instead?

Iwaswatchingthat Thu 26-Sep-13 17:50:38

Introducing the reading scheme characters, showing that a story has a beginning, a middle and an ending and being able to talk about that, book handling skills, page turning, which way up etc (you would be surprised!).

Being able to tell a story is the skill here really. It helps expression and also feeds into writing skills too.

Oblomov Thu 26-Sep-13 17:52:51

If she felt that way about it, then I would record that in the comments.
1) that she refused and didn't want to. ( we were asked to record when they were so tired that they didn't want to)
And 2) that there was no story. It was pointless.

And I mean record both those points. But in a fluffed up, nicer way!!
And this may highlight to teacher, that your dd is one of the ones who will be ready to move on to words asap.

How can that be harmful?

simpson Thu 26-Sep-13 17:55:26

Well it's up to you, my DD would prefer a blank piece of paper any day!

However I totally get your point about them being useful to show how to hold/"read" a book.

I read with yr1s and a fair few of them still don't know how to turn the pages over and get into a right pickle and then have the book upside down or turn the pages backwards.

Oblomov Thu 26-Sep-13 17:57:05

Depends what kind of school you have.
Some, children are not regularly read to. I appreciate that.

But, ours has an almost 100% record, of parents who really care, read mostly daily (apart form tiredness, give or take a few days, here and there)
and all kids having been read to regularly before.
TA told me that Head, on very very very rare occasions, over the years, has had to speak to a parent about a bit more parental effort.

So, all this kids not being read to, does not always apply.

simpson Thu 26-Sep-13 18:01:10

I guess it depends on resources too...

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