The Book with No Pictures

Book with No Pictures

“Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say.  No matter what.”

Define a rule, and then proceed to show kids how they can manipulate it to their advantage.  Everyone knows, kids delight in that kind of power. This book makes adults who are reading it say very silly things. Because, well, that’s the rule.

I read The Book with No Pictures, by standup comedian, actor, writer, director, and executive producer, B.J. Novak, aloud to all the kindergarten through 3rd grade classes before the winter break, and it was a ridiculous amount of fun. For inspiration, I watched this video of the author reading his book to a group of kids, and I’m so glad I did.  How else would I know how to sing the page about how I eat ants right off the rug for breakfast?

When I reached the marathon gibberish page that starts with “Gluur Ga-wocko ma grumph a-doo…” for about the 10th time, I decided to ask for student volunteers to try it. It’s a challenge! The kids loved getting to attempt it, so I used more volunteers for other silly pages.

At the end of the story, I asked, “What would happen if you handed this book to your dad and asked him to read to you?” (chuckles)  “Or your grandma?” (guffaws) “Or how about the principal?” (completely lost it) They howled, naming all the people they’d like to make read it to them. Let that sink in for a moment–early elementary kids gleefully plotting what adults they will make read a book to them. That’s a win on so many levels.

Does this book foster a positive connection to the printed word? Does it ever.

Will adult curmudgeons sniff their noses and declare it is too silly? Maybe.

Do I wish it didn’t include the words “Boo Boo Butt?” Yes, so I whisper those words.

Is it ever going to be on the shelf again this year? Not likely.

One adorable little boy wanted it so earnestly, he stopped in the library nearly every day to see if I was done reading it to the other classes so he could check it out. When he returned it, he told me all about reading it with his dad, his mom, and his grandma. One of them may now be a recovering curmudgeon.

Next time, I think I’ll add a coloring page activity after reading this book.  I downloaded these two PDF’s from the Bryce Don’t Play blog.

More info about the book and the author can be found here, http://thebookwithnopictures.com/. On the Teacher page, there’s a link to a 10-minute excerpt from B.J. Novak’s keynote address to the American Library Association, including the inspiration for the book, his process of testing it, and (my favorite part) about his epiphany that when a child hands you a book to read them, they are essentially a little producer, handing you a script:

“Here’s what you’ll be performing tonight.
These are your lines.
Be yourself.
Feel free to make it your own, but stick to the script.
I may ask you to do it a second time.”
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First Lines: Can You Name the Book?

 

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How many times has a book grabbed your attention from the very first sentence?

Students can peruse this interactive bulletin board and test themselves on their knowledge of opening lines to popular books, as well as be inspired to find a particular book in the library, after reading an opening line that sounds appealing to them.

On the front of the card, I printed the opening line from a book, and on the inside, I printed the title, author, and call #, to aid students in finding the book.  I also added a small piece of Velcro to hold the flaps down, since laminating them caused them to not fold tightly.

My criteria for selecting the quotes:  It had to be a fiction book currently owned by the school library, so students can check the book out.  (Sadly, this eliminated quite a few stellar first lines.)  The selections must have a variety of appeal to both boys and girls, and include reading levels grade 2 – 6.  I included some books that I know are read as part of grade-level classroom assignments, some award winners, some new books I wanted to attract interest in, and some beginning chapter book series.

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 Take a minute and have fun seeing how many opening lines you can match up
with the book titles shown below them.

 Opening Lines:

     IMG_6265      IMG_6267

     IMG_6289     IMG_6288

      IMG_6269      IMG_6271

     IMG_6272      IMG_6273

     IMG_6277      IMG_6278

     IMG_6279       IMG_6281

     IMG_6282      IMG_6284

     IMG_6285      IMG_6286

     IMG_6287      DSC04854

     IMG_6296      IMG_6297

     IMG_6298      IMG_6299

     IMG_6290     IMG_6293

     IMG_6294     DSC04834

DSC04855

 

Book Titles:

     IMG_6300      IMG_6301

     IMG_6303      IMG_6304

     IMG_6305     IMG_6302

      IMG_6306      DSC04884

     IMG_6309     IMG_6307

     IMG_6308     IMG_6311

     IMG_6312     DSC04874

     IMG_6313      IMG_6314

     DSC04885     IMG_6326

     DSC04883      IMG_6318

     IMG_6319      IMG_6320

     IMG_6325      IMG_6321

     IMG_6322      IMG_6323

IMG_6327