Talking about Silent Books

by | Nov 22, 2020 | Blog

Talking about Silent Books: How wordless texts are being used as a springboard for children’s discussions on how to live together and become socially responsible

Fiona Maine, University of Cambridge

The IBBY Silent Book project is an inspiration and the books that fill the library are rich resources for children to explore and immerse in their story worlds. In a project also drawing on the power of wordless texts, DIALLS (DIalogue and Argumentation for cultural Literacy Learning in Schools) is an EC Horizon 2020 funded project working with schools to understand and develop how young people make sense of Europe and its differing cultures. Starting with a bibliography of 150 books and films, all produced in Europe and reflecting core positive values around citizenship, we then selected 45 core texts to work with in schools and on which to build our Cultural Literacy Learning Programme (CLLP). The CLLP teaches students how to communicate with each other and understand each other’s perspectives, exploring the different cultural heritages and values of people who live in Europe and neighbouring countries. Classroom discussions are stimulated by the short wordless films and books, with some IBBY favourites also included. From the 2019 list we have used Meidän piti lähteä (Pelliccioni 2018), Mediterraneo Greder 2017), Naar de Markt (Smit, 2017) and Zaterdag (Halfmouw, 2018) as starting points to talk about themes of belonging and diversity, in addition to others from earlier lists (and maybe a few that IBBY will include in the future?). You can find our complete bibliography of Cultural Texts on our website, where we are also currently licensing short films to use in the programme too https://dialls2020.eu/library-en/.

The CLLP addresses important themes about learning to live together and being socially responsible; teaching children how to be tolerant, empathetic and inclusive in their engagement with each other. In these difficult times these skills and ideas are more important than ever. As children have talked together to make sense of the books and films in the CLLP they have also learned to listen carefully to each other’s ideas, building ideas together and to understand that our understanding is enriched by engaging with multiple perspectives.

We are developing resources to become freely available online in the Spring of 2021 and have specially licensed short wordless films so that the resource is free-standing. We are included lesson prompts for KS1, KS2 and KS3 in addition to professional development and assessment materials for teachers. These resources will become freely available online in Spring 2021.

Visit our website to find out more www.dialls2020.eu

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