One tells the story of a dog going for a ride on a train. Another shows what comes before and after—and even tackles the chicken and the egg. There's also tales of birds, farm animals, flowers or toys. In one, you can trace your finger over a Braille maze.
Yes, they are all stories in that they are pictures bound together in a particular order, but how they unfold is up to you, the reader, to translate.
You see, the books are "silent" books—they contain pictures but no words. Only their covers, where the title is written in the author's native language, give away their nationality. Otherwise, they are meant to be picked up and "read" to any child in any language.
They are on display in the College of Education's Curriculum Materials Library until the end of the week, are part of a traveling exhibit from IBBY, or the International Board on Books for Young People. The project stemmed from a response to the waves of refugees from Africa and the Middle East who were arriving on the Italian island of Lampedusa. The organization collected wordless picture books for a library on the island that could be used by children no matter their native language.
But since then, the project has expanded to include a collection for children around the world. The books on display at the Curriculum Materials Library are one of three traveling collections and include more than 70 books from 20 countries.
The books are not available for circulation, but they can be explored within the Curriculum Materials Library. The collection made its stop in Athens thanks to the efforts of Petros Panaou, clinical associate professor in the College's department of language and literacy education, who is also a member of IBBY's executive committee.
The "silent books" will be on display through April 18.
Related links: Department of Language and Literacy Education