What is literacy? It seems like a simple question. Merriam-Webster defines literacy as "the quality or state of being literate; especially the ability to read and write" (Merriam-Webster, 2007). Most children would define literacy the same way. Literacy is much more than just reading and writing. Children understand and know more about literacy before they every enter a classroom. Environmental print is all around them. Children know the sign for McDonalds, Target, Starbucks, etc. They reading and recognizing print before they know about letters, blending sounds to form words, and writing. Another form of literacy is wordless picture books. With wordless picture books children are able to read a book and understand what is going on without the stress of sounding out words to read. The pictures tell the story and can depict some difficult concepts that children are able to understand.
Author Shaun Tan uses a wordless picture book to depict an immigrant's journey to a new land and the struggle to survive. Here a deeper concept is easily understood and depicted through pictures. Literacy in the form of pictures goes beyond reading and writing.