Wordless Books

Helping people with learning disabilities to understand their world

People who can’t read or who don’t like written words are often very good at reading pictures. That’s why there are no words in these picture stories.

These books all tell a story, but they also let the reader tell their own story – the one they see in the pictures. This can tell you a lot about a person’s inner world and their understanding of situations. There is plenty to talk about and each story explores feelings and relationships as well as giving information.

Removing barriers
For someone who struggles with words, there are a lot of barriers to getting the right health or social care and support. Even when a person with a problem reaches someone who can help, like a doctor, a social worker or a therapist, there can be communication problems and anxieties on both sides.

By telling the whole story in pictures, each Books Beyond Words narrative gives people the chance to work together and explore different types of situations:

  • everyday opportunities and experiences
  • things that are about to happen, like going to hospital or appearing in court
  • life decisions, like having a relationship or agreeing to an operation.
  • things that have already happened, like abuse or losing someone you love

How to read a Books Beyond Words

There is no right or wrong way to read to read a Beyond Words book. Remember it is not necessary to be able to read the words.

1. Some people are not used to reading books. Encourage the reader to hold the book themselves, to turn the pages at their own pace, and to read the story they see in each picture.
2. Whether you are reading the book with one person or with a group, encourage them to tell the story in their own words. You will discover what each person thinks is happening, what they already know, and how they feel. You may think something different is happening in the pictures yourself, but that doesn’t matter. Wait to see if their ideas change as the story develops. Don’t challenge the reader(s) or suggest their ideas are wrong.
3. Some pictures may be more difficult to understand. It can help to prompt the people you are supporting, for example:
I wonder who that is?
I wonder what is happening?
I wonder what he or she is doing now?
I wonder how he or she is feeling?
Do you feel like that? Has it happened to you/ your friend/ your family?
4. You don't have to read the whole book in one sitting. Allow people enough time to follow the pictures at their own pace.
5. Some people will not be able to follow the story, but they may be able to understand some of the pictures. Stay a little longer with the pictures that interest them.