If you are looking to shake up story time a bit and gently encourage some imaginative discussion and discovery then wordless books could be what you are after. We recently discovered wordless books so wanted to test them out on our own 4 year old to get an official seal of approval.
Our daughter, Bess is at a frustrated age where she wants to read but is only old enough to know the letters, not how they go together. The beauty of these books (asides from the artwork of course) is the fact that stories can change and be reinvented each time. Of course it can take a little coaxing but once we got going she was deciding her own wonderful story based on what she saw, true to form, Elsa, Anna and Rapunzel appeared alongside 'Flora and the Penguin'.
We recently took a new delivery of Lizi Boyd's 'Flashlight' which is really exciting, who doesn't want to talk about camping, the woods and night time adventures? Beautiful, simple, monochrome illustrations with a hint of colour where the torch lands, there is so much to find that we could probably make up a story just on one page.
Molly Idle's captivating 'Flora and the Flamingo' and 'Flora and the Penguin', both tell the adventures of a little girl, Molly, and her dance partners. The underlying story is about how these unlikely dance partners learn to dance in harmony and find friendship, quite sweet really. But that is all dependent on your child's interpretation so anything could happen! We loved the pretty drawings and the way that the artist conveys movement and gives you a clue on where to start with her characters' perfect facial expressions.
Giving Bess wordless books has proven hugely successful. She can take control of story time, and enjoy books independently (result!) or even 'read' to little brother (double result) with no feeling of pressure to get the story or how she tells it right or wrong ro be dictated to by words - no matter how much she wants to read them for herself.
What's even better the satisfaction and laughter that we get as parents hearing some of the gems of wisdom and humour she comes up with and being able, as parents to be the audience for book time.