Wordless books will encourage conversation and dialogue between students, as well as between student and teacher. Students who can verbalize what is happening in a story by using the illustrations alone, as well as the context clue of what happened on the page before, have a better chance at inferring behaviors and emotions when they use them in real-life situations. Jalongo, Renck, Dragich, Conrad and Zhang's oft-cited article "Using Wordless Picture Books to Support Emergent Literacy" states that "wordless picture books connect visual literacy (learning to interpret images), cultural literacy (learning the characteristics and expectations of social groups) and literacy with print (learning to read and write language).
I strongly agree with this statement, and I try to incorporate all of these multiple literacies in my lower elementary classes at all times. The students' understanding of behavioral expectations and social skills are still malleable at this developmental stage, and the more that I can impress upon them about the expectations and principles of social and creative behavior in the art room, the better.
The practice of cultural literacy is one that I do not feel is addressed enough in the elementary classroom. Students have very little time during their school day (at six and a half hours long, school is where they spend their waking hours) to focus on how to properly converse and interact with fellow children outside of a classroom environment. If I can create a classroom environment in which practicing these skills is praised and thought of as a positive addition to our conversations, then my students will be more receptive to talking about art and relating it to their lives. The more comfortable the students are with the culture of the school and the classroom, the more these behaviors will become second-nature to them.