Stories Without Words

Telling the whole story with pictures

Series 3 | Lesson 8

Creators | Elise Hurst & Shaun Tan

Books without words ask readers to decode a story, without text pulling them in the right direction. In this lesson, Shaun and Elise will show us how they create their amazing WORDLESS STORIES and how we can start making our own. 

This lesson explores the amazing world of wordless stories and picture books. Students will learn about communicating a narrative without the use of text, and some of the techniques that visual storytellers draw upon when crafting their wordless stories. They will discover tools both for reading and interpreting these stories, and for making their own.

Key Concepts:

  • How do we read wordless stories?
  • How can we plan and create them?


  • Advice for reading wordless stories.
  • Techniques such as page turns, panels, framing.
  • Telling a story with images only.

Resources for

Stories Without Words

Resources include lesson plans for middle and upper primary students, each with their own activities and supporting resources.

Series 3 Lesson 8 resources on green background
  • Reference poster with ‘how to read visual stories’ techniques.
  • Wordless story suggestions to explore in your library.
  • Worksheets for evaluating wordless stories, and for creating them.
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About Stories Without Words Creators

Elise Hurst

Elise Hurst is an illustrator, fine artist and author, specialising in children's books.

Published both in Australia and internationally, her work travels around the world as cards, prints and books. And her fine art pieces and commissions have found their homes in corporate and private collections from Melbourne to London.

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Shaun Tan

Shaun Tanis works as an artist, writer and film-maker in Melbourne.

He is best known for illustrated books that deal with social and historical subjects through dream-like imagery. He is also is the recipient of an Academy Award for the short animated film ‘The Lost Thing’, the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in Sweden and the Kate Greenaway Medal in the UK.

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