I won a bookstore gift card by answering a trivia question on a radio talk show. (Yes, I’m that much of a nerd.) So, I promptly trekked over to the store and brought Flotsam into my wordless picture book collection.
This is the story of an old camera. An extremely old camera that travels the oceans by surreal means and eventually washes up where a boy is enjoying the sun and sand. Upon developing the film, he finds a picture of a child in another country holding a picture of yet another child. A magnifying glass reveals that this third child (in yet another county) is holding a picture of a fourth child in another country… and on and on it goes: stunning image after stunning image, country after country, generation after generation around the world and back into the 1800’s.
The global/historical perspective of David Wiesner‘s Flotsam is a marvelous doorway to talk about cultures with young children who are otherwise unlikely to venture beyond the borders of their country. (And of course, because it’s a wordless picture book it’s perfect for teaching inferential meaning.)
An alphabet book without letters! That was William Wondriska’s innovative idea in 1963.
Just how does that work? Well, it’s a series of images tied together with a really long piece of string.
It’s fun to watch students try and find the pattern in this book. Once mine did, I was met by great big smiles and shouts of, “I get it!!!” Congratulations WIlliam Wondriska! It still works today.
Just so you know upfront… there aren’t any words between the covers. It’s an alphabet book.
Stephen T. Johnson’s letters are cleverly and sometimes cryptically painted into the cityscape. As some of my students have never left our community before, these images resonate with their real life experiences.
I read this to my class Thursday. They absolutely loved the hunt for the letters that were more difficult to “see”. But, they are in alphabetical order. So I skipped pages to mix it up, and then jumped back and forth. It made a game out finding the correct letters; and they ate it up.
Yesterday Alphabet City was consistently the first book snatched off the bookshelf and crowded around. Mission accomplished.
Ok, ok… I know this blog is about read alouds. BUT, picture books can be incredibly powerful even without words. So it is with this moving tale of a runaway slave and a kind young girl. The mystery of who is hiding in the shed (and why are they hiding anyway?) is a gateway to talk about slavery with children.
Slavery isn’t gone, it’s just gone underground. We need to talk about it.
Learn more at END IT.