Archive of Letters and Voices • David Wiesner
• June 8, 2021
Most of the books I have written have no words.
That must sound strange, a book with no words. Are the pages blank? No, the pages are filled with pictures. How do you read the book? You read the pictures – the pictures are the language.
Reading a wordless book is different than reading a book with words. The pictures are open to the interpretation of each person who reads them. People will read facial expressions and body language according to their own personal life experiences and backgrounds. Every kid who reads a wordless book uses their own words, not the author’s words. A wordless picture book asks you to be a partner in the storytelling process. That partnership is the most exciting part of the books I create.
As a kid I drew all the time. I mean all the time. If you asked my family or my friends or my teachers to say one thing about me it would have been, “David loves to draw.”
Drawing defined who I was. Drawing let me express myself in a way that, as a child, I couldn’t do with words. The pictures I made were where I explored my ideas and thoughts and my imagination. By age ten my imagination began to go to some very interesting places. My pictures got weird. And the weirder they got the more I liked them. Some of my friends and some of my teachers didn’t know how to react to this art. But my sisters, brother, and parents never had a problem. They always encouraged me.
By the time I was in high school I realized that I wanted to use my art to tell stories. When I discovered that there were books where the stories were told only with pictures I knew that was what I wanted to do. My career has been spent making weird wordless books for kids (and some with words too), because I felt there were kids out there like me who also think best in pictures. Maybe you are one of them?