Wonderful Wordless Picture Books
Have you and your children discovered the treasures to be found in wordless picture books?
Wordless books are exactly what the term implies—books that tell a story, but without printed story text.
Instead, wordless books rely on the illustrations to draw readers into the tales they tell. The illustrators of wordless books communicate emotion, humor, and engaging detail without writing a single word.
Because there are no words to “read,” wordless books can be enjoyed independently by children of all ages—whether they are readers or not. When given the opportunity, a child will often discover a story in the book’s illustrations that is far more imaginative than anything that you—or even the author himself—could have conceived. Though an author of a wordless book may have had his own story to tell, each book is a blank slate when it is read by your child.
Reading Wordless Books with Preschoolers
Wordless picture books are so much more than simply books with great pictures! These wonderful books can benefit your preschooler’s emerging literacy in three important ways.
- Wordless books help develop vocabulary and language skills in young children. As you talk to your children about the pictures in the books, they’ll learn to label objects in the pictures, assign appropriate sounds and gestures to objects, and invent a simple story plot to accompany the illustrations.
- Wordless books help develop creativity and storytelling skills. Wordless picture books naturally help pre-readers progress from listening to a story to telling a story. As they progress, children learn to devise storylines, understand sequencing, and develop oral, and eventually written, storytelling skills. Because they encourage imagination and creativity, wordless picture books are the ideal genre to develop these skills.
- Wordless books encourage book usage skills. Wordless picture books encourage appropriate book handling skills in very small children. In addition to learning to handle books with respect and appreciation, children also learn essential book-reading skills like reading from front to back, top to bottom, and left to right, and turning pages one by one.
Reading Wordless Books with Older Children
But wordless picture books aren’t just for preschoolers! These versatile books can be especially enjoyable and useful for older kids. Because of their depth and complexity, wordless books can stimulate an older child’s thinking and imagination in ways that a chapter book may not.
- Wordless picture books have amazing illustrations. Because they rely entirely on illustrations to tell a story, wordless picture books are usually illustrated in amazing detail. The artwork itself can provide hours of entertainment for an older child.
- Wordless books make great “story starters.” Older children can use a wordless book as a springboard for a creative writing assignment. Because the illustrations suggest a storyline without using words, this genre provides the ideal story starter for a struggling writer. Using wordless books as story starters helps develop basic writing skills like sentence structure, vocabulary, grammar, and mechanics. But beyond the basics, this story starter activity encourages story-writing skills such as plot and character development and story structure.
- Wordless books are often “mind-benders.” Many wordless books tell fantastic stories that take the mind to places it doesn’t expect to go. These books stimulate the imagination and require more mature “readers” to think deeply about the story the author is telling.
- Wordless books bring history to life. Wordless books tell historical stories in a particularly poignant way. Rich illustrations evoke an emotional response that might not be experienced if the story were told with words alone. An older child may find himself enjoying history without even realizing it!
I’ve chosen a few of my favorite wordless picture books to get you started, but don’t stop there. There are hundreds to choose from! Click on a book cover below to read reviews of my favorites for preschoolers and big kids!
My Favorite Wordless Picture Books for Little Kids:
My Favorite Wordless Books for Big Kids:
FREE Wordless Picture Books Library List
Wordless Picture Books Recommended by Our Readers
- Journey by Aaron Becker (Recommended by Andy P., AALP Graphic Designer)
- Early Bird Gets the Worm by Bruce Lansky (Recommended by Steph J. via blog comment)
- The Chicken’s Child by Margaret A. Hartelius (Recommended by Rachel O. via blog comment)
- A Small Miracle by Peter Collington (Recommended by Kim via blog comment)
- South by Patrick McDonnell (Recommended by Alicia via blog comment)
- Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann (Recommended by Kelsey via blog comment)
- Chicken and Cat by Sara Varon (Recommended by Marietta via blog comment)
- The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang (Recommended by Jamie via blog comment)
- My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann (Recommended by Brooke W. via blog comment)
- Sea of Dreams by Dennis Nolan (Recommended by Christy via blog comment)
- Time Flies by Eric Rohmann (Recommended by Ginny via blog comment)
- Flotsam by David Wiesner(Recommended by Jennifer H. and Heather via blog comment)
- Wave by Suzy Lee (Recommended by Amy via blog comment)
- Zoom by Istvan Banyai (Recommended by Amy via blog comment)
- Where’s Walrus by Stephen Savage (Recommended by Bubble Ink via blog comment)
- A Ball for Daisy by Chris Racshka (Recommended by Bubble Ink via blog comment)
- Brave Molly by Brooke Boynton-Hughes (Recommended by Jennifer)
- Spot and Dot by Henry Cole (Recommended by Meg M.)
Do you have a favorite wordless picture book? Please share it in the comments and I’ll add it to our Readers’ Picks list!
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