The Silent Book Project Virtual Event

IBBY Canada and Communication-Jeunesse have a common mission: promoting the pleasure of reading among children across Canada, from coast to coast. That specific literary awakening happens with toddlers who cannot yet read words. But their love of books is already growing through a myriad of reflexes, some of which we still have as grown-ups… I won’t believe you if you tell me that you don’t smell your books! A new book doesn’t have the same scent as an old, musty book (I love that smell!).

Not only are stories accessible for children who are not yet readers, but it is NOT a rule that you must know how to read or write to share a good story. Let’s not forget the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. In the magical world of children’s books, illustrations are of utmost importance! Many illustrators have created incredible wordless picture books that are touching, funny, and often, unforgettable stories.

The Silent Book Project gave the board members of IBBY Canada the idea to host a live virtual discussion on this subject with two renowned Canadian artists: Thao Lam and Jacques Goldstyn. Held on May 27, 2021, this literary conference gathered over 75 attendees from different provinces and territories.

Thao Lam and Jacques Goldstyn seemed to be fans of each other’s work! Throughout the 60-minute discussion, they were able to talk about how illustrations are of undeniable importance in children’s books. Not only do pictures help some children with reading difficulties to understand what they are reading and analyze the narrative text, but in wordless picture books, magic happens. Wordless picture books allow children to decode a mind-blowing imaginary universe.

The invited artists also took the time to talk about how sharing, presenting and animating wordless picture books with children of all ages is a great way for them to develop their imaginations, as well as developing their listening skills, helping them understand the structure of a story, and more.

While the conversation was going on, a plethora of questions and awesome comments scrolled through the conversation thread. Seeing how much the attendees enjoyed this IBBY Canada activity, it’s obvious that we will resume this concept with another dynamic and interesting virtual literary conference in the fall. Stay tuned!

Contributed by Nicholas Aumais

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