Thursday, 13 August 2015

I Read... The Book With No Pictures

I have a 7 year old son, so we have a large library of picture books at home (you can imagine that having an English teacher as a mom means lots of reading from an early age).  The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak (of The Office and dating Mindy Kaling fame) doesn't exactly fall into that category... as the title suggests, there are no pictures... but it is an amazing story for kids that proves that, sometimes, words are worth a million pictures.

I read the book to my son without previewing it.  I wanted to experience it with him, and I expected it to be funny for both of us considering that the B.J. Novak's comedic work as an actor and writer.  While my expectations were fulfilled, I didn't expect Novak to speak so clearly and so well to his true audience- the children listening to the story being read.  My enjoyment of the book came from watching and hearing my son get so much enjoyment from our experience of reading together.

Note to the reader, this is a book to experience with a child.  Don't hand it to your child and let them read it alone.  You will be robbing both of you of a lot of joy.  If you are reading it to a group of kids, be aware that you will have a loud and hyper group to deal with by the time you are done!  Novak takes advantage of the fact that the reader must read whatever the author writes in the book.  He makes the adult say silly things about him or herself, much to the delight of any kids who get to listen to the ridiculousness.  I can't think of a better way to demonstrate the joy of reading and the power of language to kids.  Pictures are unnecessary- the words and the performance by the reader becomes the visual.

I also think that this book could be used as a tool with older kids.  Novak demonstrates the power of language and the art of words extremely well.  How does the use of italics, colour, and font help to tell the story?  Why is it that we all know how the phrase "Also, I am a robot monkey" should be read?  Try having your older students analyze the use of language in this children's story and apply it to their own work. 

Need another reason to check out The Book With No Pictures?  Check out this video of Novak reading his book to a group of kids.  Those giggles and screams say it all.

Food for thought... how do you use children's books in your classroom?  Any creative ideas?

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