A Book Review and Classroom Tips for The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
As the title makes clear, there are no pictures anywhere in this text by B.J. Novak. Nevertheless, young children will love having this book read to them while being shown the imaginative, vibrant text. The text won’t necessarily be a great read aloud for every adult. To use this as a read aloud, the educator has to be willing to let the author make a monkey out of them! Seriously. (Actually, quite humorously.) Without plot, characters, events or any other story elements, The Book With No Pictures can distinctively be classified in the comedy or humor genre, bringing joy and out-right laughter to its listeners.
A Bit about B.J.
B.J. Novak was born in Newton, MA, and attended Newton South High School. After graduating from Harvard (2001), he moved to LA and started his career as a stand-up comedian. He is probably best known as the executive producer, writer, director, and actor on the show The Office. He has also acted and worked in several other movies and shows, including Saving Mr. Banks. While he has written two books for adults, The Book With No Pictures is his first children’s book. As is evident from his career choices and this text, humor, and entertainment are important in his life!
Using this Text in the Classroom
While this text will surely be engaging for students, it could be tricky to use as a mentor text. The children might be too excited after hearing it to settle down for serious learning! So long as it was read well prior to the lesson, it could be used with preschoolers and kindergarteners to teach concepts about print. In particular, this text would undoubtedly reinforce that print contains the message. With readers and writers in K-2, this text could be used to highlight how text font features (e.g., color, size, shape, and boldness) convey information and impact the reader’s voice. One could also consider reading The Book With No Pictures just for the fun of it, especially since that would be consistent with this author’s purpose!
Watch as B.J. reads an excerpt from the text part of the book to a group of K-2 students in Long Island City, NY. Notice the ways in which the text draws student engagement and interaction with ease.
WARNING: Practice this text a few times before reading aloud! Made-up words, words meant to be sung, and text features like varying word sizes and unconventional punctuation (e.g. ?!?) will pose some unusual challenges.
Have you used The Book With No Pictures in your classroom? Are there other texts with non-traditional print features, snarky elements, or dramatic reader improv you love? Let us know!