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Best Friends

by Maureen Slamer

Wordless books are a valuable resource, especially for our youngest readers. In wordless books, the pictures carry the meaning and show the story. There are no words or captions. The reader provides the words, phrases, and sentences. They are an avenue to practice creating a story.  In this story, three-year-old Charlie is reading to her 18 month-old brother, Brady.

Three-year-old Charlie sprawled on the floor, tub time done, books scattered everywhere. “Mom, I wanna read to Brady! I wanna read to him! Brady, wanna read a book? Here, Brady.” Charlie patted the carpet next to her. Brady dropped to his knees and flopped on his belly. 

“What book, Charlie?” Mom asked.

“The one with the puppy like Aunt Krissy’s.”

Mom thought. “Ohh…Best Friends. Sure you can read to Brady.”

“Brady, Best Friends.” Charlie pointed to the book.

“Puppy!” Brady pointed.

“Yup, he’s hugging the puppy.”

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Charlie opened the book. She spread the book flat and pointed to the pictures. “Wook Brady, they’re fishing.” 

Charlie turned the page. “Wook Brady, they’re playing in the woods.”

“Puppy!” Brady pointed. “Puppy, puppy,” Brady tapped the page.

Charlie turned the pages. “Wook Brady, puppy’s gone!…Uh oh, puppy’s wost!”

“…Wook Brady, more puppies!”

“Puppy.”

“Puppies Brady! Lots of puppies!” Charlie continued to talk and read. “Brady, those puppies are going bye-bye. Say bye-bye puppy, Brady.” 

Brady waved. “Bye, puppy.”

Charlie closed the book. “Mom, I read to Brady. He can go to bed now.” 

Mom smiled as she picked up Brady. “Bedtime Brady. Book’s all done.”

To Help a Young Reader Learn About Reading

Charlie is reading to Brady. There are no words in the book itself. Charlie is creating the story on her own using the pictures (“Wook Brady, they’re fishing.”). She is able to carry the story over the pages of the book using the pictures as a guide (“Wook Brady, puppy’s gone!…Uh oh, puppy’s wost!”). Charlie is modeling to Brady what she understands about reading and a story. She is imitating what she has seen her mother and father do as she reads to Brady. She creates the story.

We can:

• Find a spot and read a book together. Talk about what is cool in the story or what they found interesting. Have a conversation about the book.

• Revisit their favorite book, over and over. Read together and pause and let them “read” the pages. They may rely on the parts they memorized. That is okay. They are using what they know about reading to recreate the story for you both to enjoy.

Consider:

• Create your own wordless books, using your pictures from your phone. Think about those pictures from a birthday party.

• Have your child draw pictures of what happened during the day. Staple them together and have them read the story.

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