Programs

Introduction to Wordless Picture Books: A One-Night Mini

November 15, 2022

OVERVIEW:

A One-Night Mini Online Course

They’re Caldecott winners. They’re New York Times bestsellers. You’ll find them in the hands of pre-kindergarteners building their visual literacy, and in the hands of independent readers ready to infer and interpret stories in new ways.

What are they? Wordless picture books!

Join artist Kate Samworth for an introduction to the wordless picture book form, and the unique elements of narrative storytelling that are so crucial to telling a story through pictures.

  • One live session on Tuesday, November 15, 2022 (7pm – 8:15pm Eastern)
  • Webinar-style program with closed captioning available and limited interaction in the chat. It’s a great fit if you’re looking for a short course of one, 75-minute session offering limited interaction with the community, but loads of information about this visual storytelling structure.

Feedback Expected:

  • None included in the course. There will be limited interaction in the chat feature of the webinar-style program.
  • An optional, post-course consultation opportunity is available for an additional cost of $100. The critique includes written feedback on one wordless picture book concept and draft dummy. Artists may submit one full picture book draft, up to a standard 14 – 16 spreads. Final art is not expected, sketch and concept is encouraged. The cost of this optional course critique is $100.  Space is limited. Written feedback will be provided within 4 – 6 weeks of your submission. Details will be released on the night of the course for this optional paid critique.

WHY THIS WORKSHOP?

Almost all picture books have a narrative through-line. The whole story (whether we’re talking about the words or the pictures) tug at the reader’s emotions; some laugh, some cry, and some leave the reader with an overflowing heart.
Highlights Foundation logo. Introduction to Wordless Picture Books, a one-night mini. Nov. 15, 7-8:15pm Eastern. Join artist Kate Samworth for an introduction to the wordless picture book form, and its unique elements of narrative storytelling! Photo of Kate Samworth.
The same holds true even in the absence of written word—in Wordless Picture Books.

This unique, illustration-dependent style of narrative storytelling requires important considerations:

  • How can you build a narrative with only pictures?
  • Does “wordless” really mean zero words?
  • How do panels, pacing, and page turns lend themselves to the narrative form?

In this One-Night Mini, join Kate Samworth to:

  • Examine past and present examples of wordless picture books (see abbreviated list below),
  • Explore visual storytelling techniques and considerations (when the narrative relies entirely on pictures),
  • Discuss clarity, continuity, and story structure in wordless picture books,
  • Reflect on your own ideas for developing a wordless, narrative arc.

IT’S A GREAT FIT IF:

  • You are an illustrator looking to expand into a new form of storytelling. Perhaps you’ve created illustrations tied to a manuscript in the past. Do you want to understand the opportunities in wordless picture books? Join us!
  • You are an artist learning about the children’s book market. There isn’t just one way to craft a story. Join us to explore this opportunity for illustrators to construct a narrative using only pictures.
  • You want to know more about Wordless Picture Books. Maybe you are an author, educator, or parent with an interest in this unique storytelling form. Join us to learn more. (Please note that much of the discussion will center around developing a wordless narrative.)
  • You’re looking for something short, sweet, and smart! This is not a full workshop; it is one 75-minute session with limited engagement meant to provide an introduction to the wordless picture book form.

From Kate:
This course is designed for illustrators interested in developing their ideas into a storyboard. We’ll explore a few contemporary examples of wordless picture books and discuss the role of spots and full page illustrations in story pacing; compare the passive vs. active voices; examine the use of colors, body language, lighting, and perspective in conveying emotion; and identify the story structures to those described by Christopher Booker as the Seven Basic Plots. Students will then be guided through a series of illustration exercises to develop their skills in conveying action and emotion.

TENTATIVE AGENDA:

At registration: You will receive a Zoom link to use for the course.

Live: Tuesday, November 15 (7pm-8:15pm Eastern)

  • Wordless Picture Books: An Overview
    • View wordless picture books & examine the narrative arc, continuity, pacing, and passage of time.
    • Understand considerations to the form: tone, intended audience, wordless/no words, concept or narrative
    • What makes a satisfying wordless narrative?
  • Dig In: A Hands On Approach
    • Experiment in a short panel exercise to communicate an idea without words (please bring materials to sketch with you to the session).
    • Share reflections in the chat.
  • Q & A

Recommended Reading: 

  • Another by Christian Robinson
  • Draw! by Raúl Colón
  • Pool by JiHyeon Lee
  • Time Flies by Eric Rohmann
  • Wave by Suzy Lee
  • Bee & Me by Alison Jay
  • Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
  • The Lion & The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
  • Float by Daniel Miyares
  • Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
  • Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan
  • I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoët
  • Grand Isle by Kate Samworth

 

An optional, post-course consultation opportunity is available for an additional cost of $100. The critique includes written feedback on one wordless picture book concept and draft dummy. Artists may submit one full picture book draft, up to a standard 14 – 16 spreads. Final art is not expected, sketch and concept is encouraged. The cost of this optional course critique is $100.  Space is limited. Written feedback will be provided within 4 – 6 weeks of your submission. Details will be released on the night of the course for this optional paid critique.

Please note: 
If you’re unable to attend the session for any reason, you’ll have access to the recording (with closed captioning) through December 31, 2022.

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

HOW IT IMPACTS KIDS:

Children engage in picture books in many ways. A wordless picture book allows children of all ages to bring the narrative to life in their own minds and hearts, led by rich illustrations.

Why do we mention this? Learn about the Highlights Foundation mission.

RELATED RESOURCES:

Looking at Wordless Picture Books, Then and Now, by Kate Samworth
Silent Books, an IBBY project hosting a collection of silent books (wordless picture books) that could be understood and enjoyed by children regardless of language.
Louder than Words: A History of Wordless Storytelling, by David Wiesner

Faculty & Special Guests

Kate Samworth

Kate Samworth grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC and was part of a politically active community of artists…
Learn more

$29.00