The Power of the Wordless Picture Book

I believe strongly that wordless picture books should be studied within each year group. They allow for so much conversation, discussion, perspectives, analysis… so many wonderful benefits and they are inclusive of all learners and readers.

They are beautiful, poignant and heart felt. They need no words for their pictures tell the story.

When Migrants by Issa Watanabe arrived, I knew immediately this one would provoke a strong emotional reaction. I knew I would have to face harsh realities and a strong conviction that things need to change.

This wordless picture book is stunningly illustrated using an entirely black back ground with colourful swathes of clothing on the migrants and their journey. The scenery changes as they journey and the perils are heartfelt and real for the reader. By studying the faces and the body language I felt the fear, hunger, desperation and loss in each migrant. I could also feel the courage of the group, helping each other to cope, carry and continue.

The faces of migrants looking death in the eye

What they are fleeing from could be guessed and discussed at great length …we know only their journey and part of the destination for some, as death literally follows them and takes where he can, though it is done with love through the images.

A rest before the journey must continue
A scene altogether too familiar in our world

My photos do no justice to the beauty of this book. It is heartfelt, harrowing and honest on every page and in every face within the book. I love the use of animals, their various sizes, shapes and distinctive qualities making the point that anyone could be a migrant, the choice does not belong to one race or culture. It is one bred of necessity and fear.

A striking book that should be in classrooms, perhaps used in conjunction with The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros and When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. The Journey by Francesca Sanna, My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner and The Day the War Came by Nicola Davies could also be important books to share alongside Migrants.

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