Centre for Language, Culture and Learning Event – Goldsmiths, University of London
11 March 2022 – 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
Poster print design for the book exhibition by Ningjing Yuan, MA Children’s Book Illustration student, Goldsmiths, University of London
This was a wonderful opportunity to see an Exhibition of Silent Books from the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Honour List 2017.
74 Silent Books from 20 countries
(Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, UK, USA)
What is a silent book? This seems an odd term for a book that always seems so polyphonic – full of voices and sounds. Silent books are picturebooks, comics and graphic novels with no words to tell the narrative. Words may appear on signs and in the illustrations but do not guide or tell the story.
Many of the books are very experimental. I feel like as we grow older, we tend to oversee and overcomplicate everything so some of the books are a bit hard to read and understand without words, but once you slow down and try to see things exactly as they are, it starts to make sense (exhibition visitor).
The exhibition was originally shipped from Switzerland, and we transformed the Top Floor of the Educational Studies department into an exhibition space. The PhD and MA Children’s Literature students helped to set up and run the exhibition. Over 50 visitors came to the exhibition and became fascinated about how the illustrators from different cultures and countries had decided to illustrate their stories. Reflections written, scribbled, drawn on post-it notes stuck on a large outline of a book captured some of the varied and fascinating reading experiences of visitors to the exhibition who came to browse and then stayed for hours.
Reflective snippets from exhibition visitors
A very impressive exhibition – very inspiring, which recalls my bygone days, full of fun and imagination, and cultural messages.
Really inspiring exhibition! I particularly loved the different styles and ways to tell a story without words.
A great exhibition! Interesting to see a common theme of children going on an imaginary journey with their toys.
Lovely variety of books. Lots of journeys. I intend to buy some of them for my school.
Really fantastic! It’s a good chance for me to enjoy so many great works!
Fascinating selection – so many different types of narrative.
Very reluctantly had to tear myself away from this very yummy selection! Thank you so much for this treat!
Such a great book will make the reader feel amazing!
Love this book so much! I can’t wait to start drawing now.
I want to repeat the story again and again.
Lovely book, good illustrations, captivating story, bold colours, and the sense of motion.
This book definitely shows how silent books can work on many levels and can be both for adults and children.
It was a great experience. I love all the books. So amazing!
I realised the charm of silent books! Books in every country have their own styles. Lovely!
Do read more about IBBY Silent Book Exhibitions and how they came into being. You can access resources on reading these books in a community with different languages and a booklet using Silent Books with children.
We look forward to hosting a new exhibition of Silent Books at Goldsmiths in 2023. If you are interested in a PhD or MA Children’s Literature (3 pathways – Issues and Debates, Creative Writing; Children’s Book Illustration) contact me at Goldsmiths: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog by Vicky Macleroy