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Wonderful Wordless Picture Books

A child reading a wordless picture book

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.

Reading Aloud to Kids Who Can't Sit Still - All About Reading
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Button to go to prechooler books

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.

Child reading a wordless picture book in a tree
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
Button to go to older kids books

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:

Anno's Journey book cover

Anno’s Journey
by Mitsumasa Anno

The Flower Man book cover

The Flower Man
by Mark Ludy

frog, where are you? book cover

frog, where are you?
by Mercer Mayer

The Lion and the Mouse book cover

The Lion and the Mouse
by Jerry Pinkney

Mirror book cover

Mirror
by Jeannie Baker

Noah's Ark book cover

Noah’s Ark
by Peter Spier

Pancakes for Breakfast book cover

Pancakes for Breakfast
by Tomie dePaola

Red Sled book cover

Red Sled
by Lita Judge

Sidewalk Circus book cover

Sidewalk Circus
by Paul Fleischman

Truck book cover

Truck
by Donald Crews

Hank Finds an Egg book cover

Hank Finds an Egg
by Rebecca Dudley

My Favorite Wordless Books for Big Kids:

Chalk book cover

Chalk
by Bill Thomson

Rainstorm book cover

Rainstorm
by Barbara Lehman

Sector 7 book cover

Sector 7
by David Weisner

The Adventures of Polo book cover

The Adventures of Polo
by Régis Faller

The Red Book book cover

The Red Book
by Barbara Lehman

Tuesday book cover

Tuesday
by David Weisner

Lights Out book cover

Lights Out
by Arthur Geisert

FREE Wordless Picture Books Library List

Wordless Picture Books Library List download

Would you like to read some of my favorite wordless picture books with your children? Click to download our list to take to your local library.

Looking for MORE books? You can find more great library lists here!

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!

FREE Picture Book LIbrary Lists

All About Learning Press, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. All proceeds from our partnership with Amazon.com will be donated to local libraries.

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Rachael Nichols

says:

Oh wow. I don’t think we have any of these wordless books. I’m going to pick some up. Thanks for the recommendations!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Racheal. I hope you find lots of great new books to enjoy!

Kellie

says:

Thanks for the recommendations this is a great list.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Kellie.

Chauncey Newberry

says:

Love the book list!

Jen

says:

Appreciate the reminder about wordless picture books. My 5 year old hasn’t wanted to try “reading” them himself but I feel motivated to keep trying.

Priscilla

says:

I’ve never thought of using wordless story books. This is so interesting ! Thanks for the recommendation

Kim

says:

Last school year I brought a selection of wordless books in to our homeschool group of preschoolers and kindergartners. Each child picked their own book and was allowed to have it for a few days. When we all got together over the following week each child had a chance to “read” us their story. They felt accomplished and proud and important to be the classroom storyteller instead of an adult doing it. Their imagination and interpretation of their book was amazing to watch. It led to questions, deeper thoughts on the book, laughter, interest and interaction. Wordless books have become a favorite in our family that we look at again and again with the story changing each time.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

What a great idea for using wordless picture books in a group setting, Kim! I love this idea! Thanks for sharing it.

Stacey

says:

Thank you for posting about this topic! I stumbled on wordless books this past year when requesting books from our library and was totally stumped as to how to get the most out of it. I wasn’t planning on checking out more wordless books until reading your post. Now I’ve got the motivation and some great ideas for incorporating these into our regular routine.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Stacey! Yes, wordless picture books can be awkward at first, but they hold lots of learning opportunities.

I even like them for middle schoolers and high schoolers. A fun writing assignment we have done is for a student to choose a wordless picture book and write a detailed story to go with the illustrations. This is especially helpful for those students that aren’t comfortable making up their own stories from scratch. Yet, the creative types still have room to put in unexpected twists even with existing illustrations.

Stacey

says:

Another great idea! My kids are both younger but I’m going to file that one away for later. Thanks again!

Julie

says:

Love putting our own verbal stories on these!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great to hear, Julie!

Amber S

says:

I LOVE picture books for all ages and the idea of making up your own story as you go along! Such creativity and imagination!

Christina

says:

Oooh thank you for this wonderful booklist! I just got Annos journey and we love the Lion and the Mouse!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Christina! Enjoy!

Amanda Brandenberg

says:

Wordless books have never been my favorite, but I suppose I need to give them another try.

Malenthia Layel

says:

Super cute books

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Malenthia!

Meg Miller

says:

Yes! It is a sweet moment when I see emotion out of my kids while enjoying a wordless picture book. A gasp, a laugh, a sigh are fruitful evidence of connection with a story. Henry Cole has created some other lovely wordless books, such as “Spot and Dot”, and “One Little Bag”.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, such a wonderful moment, Meg!

Amy

says:

My kids get a lot out of wordless picture books. We all so around and discuss what we see and predict. Great for language skills!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Such a great point, Amy! Yes, the storytelling/discussion that accompanies wordless picture books is wonderful for language skills.

billie

says:

Thanks for these! I love ‘reading’ wordless picture books, especially with my pre-reader!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Billie! I hope you find some new titles to enjoy in this list.

Megan Claramnunt

says:

Wordless books are a new found love. My preschooler loves making up his own story to go along with the pictures! :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful, Megan! I love that your little one is enjoying them.

Sarah

says:

Our family only recently became interested in wordless books, but it really does make for a neat story time experience. :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great to hear, Sarah!

Lisa

says:

Thank you for the suggestion! We are regulars at the library but wordless books are not something we have ever explored. I will take these suggestions to the catalogue!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I hope you enjoy them as much as we have, Lisa!

Lyndzie

says:

We love wordless picture books. We just “read” one tonight.

Amy

says:

These are great for promoting imagination and critical thinking. We love the wordless picture books we have come across, and I’m excited to try these other suggestions!

Joanna

says:

My kids love wordless books

Lydia Ratna

says:

Wordless picture books are also great for reading to/with bilingual/trilingual kids!

Jen Miller

says:

My children love wordless picture books! I appreciate the recommendations for more wordless picture books. I can’t wait to see if our library has them!

Jennifer C

says:

Wordless books can really be used in so many ways. Before I started teaching, I didn’t understand the purpose of wordless books, but now, after teaching for many years and using wordless books in so many ways, I think wordless books are a hidden treasure. Watching a reluctant /struggling reader pick up a book and become engaged with the story is a great experience.
Thank you for your list of great picture books!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Jennifer! I know what you mean, but I have come to love wordless picture books. One of the best writing assignments my junior high kids have done is writing a story based upon a wordless picture book of their choosing. It was a lot of fun!

Paula V.

says:

Books with words often end up being treated like books without words when I’m reading with young kids because it’s so much more enjoyable for everyone. As far as books without words, we have Hank Finds an Egg, but I am happy for this list of others that we can add to our library.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thanks for the recommendation, Paula! Hank Finds an Egg looks like a sweet story told with interesting photographs.

Cass

says:

These are fun to do with third graders, they also enjoy creating the stories with a partner.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Oh, I love the idea of approaching wordless picture books with a partner, Cass. What a great way to encourage storytelling!

Margaret

says:

I adore wordless books

Susan Marold

says:

Thankyou for these lists theyll be useful when Im purchasing for my school Library when we get back to normal school after COVID
Would you know of any Indigenous wordless picture books
i love Brownyn Bancroft

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this will be useful for you, Susan.

No, I’m not aware of any wordless picture books that specifically deal with indigenous peoples. I have seen at least one book illustrated by Brownyn Bancroft, but it wasn’t wordless. Interesting.

Sue Miller

says:

Fantastic lists, really helpful. Thank you

Julie Jensen

says:

I’m looking for a wordless picture book I came across but can’t find it again. It’s about a little black girl at grade school who stands alone in the crowd until a white girl befriends her.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Julie,
I am not familiar with the book you described and while I sometimes have success with using a search engine to find books like this, today I couldn’t find it. I’m sorry I’m not any help. If you find the title, please let me know. It sounds like an interesting book.

Linda Ream

says:

Finding the book featured in the article mesmerizing, I was wondering what the name of the book is.
The photo was of a boy focused on butterflies. Would you be able to forward the name and author of that book?
Thanks! Linda Ream.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Linda,
Is the book you are thinking of possibly Butterfly Boy by Virginia Kroll?