Menu

Oral Language

A few words about wordless picture books

Wordless picture books are books are told entirely through their illustrations — they are books without words, or sometimes just a few words. Sharing wordless books at home or at school gives us a chance to develop so many important literacy skills: listening, speaking, storytelling, vocabulary, comprehension, story structure, inference, cause and effect … the list goes on and on!

Vocabulary, worth talking about

I have a good friend with a 7 month old daughter. Through his video clips on Facebook, I have watched E react to new toys, try all sorts of new foods, and learn to sit up. Around our house, we're way past soft foods and teethers, so I watch with joy as E happily gums spoonfuls of bananas and sweet potato. But every time I watch, I'm struck by the silence. There are no adult sounds, just the occasional grunt or gurgle from baby E. When I finally asked E's Mom and Dad about the silence, it turns out to be plain 'ol stage fright — Mom and Dad are too shy to have their voice heard on video.

The power of stories

I saw this video for the first time a few years ago. I didn't know where the story was going, but I was entranced.

One upon a time …

Once upon a time

Do you think that sweet girl has been read to? Talked to? Listened to? It's clear she has. For many hours for many years.

Picture books on the decline?

A recent New York Times article reveals that picture books are no longer as popular as they once were; that sales are down, that parents are often looking to chapter books to propel their children forward educationally, perhaps for what is considered more sophisticated literary or educational experiences.

Stuff and nonsense.

Do more than read...talk!

Teaching by Listening, a study from the July 2009 journal Pediatrics, is all about the contribution of adult-child conversations to a child's language development. This piece, along with other research, documents the effect of language in the home on a child's vocabulary. Without question, kids who hear more words spoken at home learn more words and enter school with better vocabularies.

My poor dental hygienist

All she wanted to do was clean my teeth and share new pictures of her 6-month-old little girl.

"She's very cute!" I mumbled, with Christina's hands in my mouth. "Do you read to her?" I asked.

"We do! Probably a book almost every day. But it's not like she understands what we say. It's sort of funny to do it."

There's nothing like a comment like that to get this reading specialist to sit up in the chair and start talking. And talk we did!

Talk to your baby, narrate what you're doing, talk to your baby, words, words, words!

I usually skip over Sunday's USA Weekend section, heading straight for the Wall Street Journal business section (sounds dull, but there's a column I love!). One week USA Weekend ran a light, but good article, called Baby Talk. In it, Kelly Dinardo identified 15 things parents should do for their baby. In addition to important things such as dosing properly and developing baby's sleep habits, Dinardo addressed the importance of talking to your baby.

"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase