Silent book, what they are and why they are important

Source: Terre di mezzo publisher

To tell a story, you don't always need written words. Sometimes the images and a pinch of fantasy. Especially when you are young and reading a book can simply mean interpreting a series of representations and images that follow one another: the best for young readers is to do it with the help of an adult next to that asks the child questions and questions about the characters and events represented on the page and that you travel with your imagination with him. The narration through the illustrated images, with no or very little text, is at the very basis of silent book.

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But what is the peculiarity of these volumes and how should they be read? We asked Raffaele Mantegazza, professor of Intercultural Pedagogy at the University of our city-Bicocca: “These are books that, using only representations, develop a narrative, generally linked to one or two characters. The images, in fact, all have a common thread and are generally very accurate both in the representation of the background and the scenario, and of the protagonist ".

“Unlike other sub-categories of the genus such as i hidden object book (the books full of characters and details) the silent books have a linear structure, with a temporal development of the facts. Being books that do not involve the reading of words, therefore non-verbal, they can be especially useful for children under six".

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Thanks to silent books, even a simple moment of reading on the sofa can turn into a pleasant and relaxing experience, a moment in which parents and children can spend time together and indulge in the story of a story. This can be a great way to exercise narrative skills in the child, and not only: “When the book ends and the last page has been reached together, the parents could try to ask how according to him the story continues. In this way the child, imagining a story that goes beyond the frame of the book, can try to build his own story, becoming co-author of the story and therefore understand with direct experience that reading a book also means contributing to the story represented through the their personality, their tastes, their ideas. Silent books are interesting precisely for this aspect: if on the one hand they are able to exercise narrative skills, on the other they are an excellent way to learn how to tell and listen to a story ".


Not only the possibility of wandering with the imagination: silent books are also a excellent springboard towards reading texts with words: "Although the transition to written texts takes time, silent books can help children think that there may be something beautiful and above all joyful in books and that it is worth spending time reading".

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Today there are many silent book authors. Although this genre we have had in the past a very wide diffusion abroad (one of the best known contemporary authors is, for example, the English Brian Fitzgerald, Stephanie Graegin author of "Little Fox in the Magic Wood" or Beatrice Rodriguez, who signed the book on the cover "Il ladro di Polli" by Terre di Mezzo) now some are also establishing themselves author Del Paeseni such as Alessandro Sanna ("Fiume Lento" Rizzoli Libri), Silvia Vecchini and Sualzo Vincenti ("Una cosa difficile", Bao Publishing). A very recent publication is Gita sulla luna, by John Hare (Babalibri), for children aged 4 and up.


As Raffaele Mantegazza explains, silent books can also be readings for all children who have one different linguistic culture than that of the country in which they are located. Precisely on the basis of this assumption, thanks to the International Board on Book for Young people, a non-profit organization, a library with the best known international silent books, dedicated to children and young people who live on the island or who are in the First Reception Centers.

  • reading
  • learning
  • 1-2 children years
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