As an elementary school librarian I allow my students pure and simple reading time when they visit the library. Some of my younger students will remark, “But I can’t read!” That is when I promptly pull out my wordless picture books. I show off wordless pictures books to my students to teach them that you don’t have to use the words to figure out the story in a picture book. There are some great picture books out there that have only a few words, and many that have no words at all. These wordless picture books promote creative thinking, teach order of events and sequencing, and can be just as enjoyable as traditional books with words.
Flotsam by David Wiesner. Librarians tend to have more “favorite” books than they can count, Flotsam is truly one of my favorite picture books, and it has no words at all. This wordless picture book is a Caldecott Medal winner and for good reason. The gorgeous illustrations are a joy to look at. The creative story told through the pictures follows a young boy who encounters an old camera on the beach. The boy develops the film and what he finds on the photos is amazing.
Once Upon a Banana Peel by Jennifer Armstrong. Another completely wordless picture book, Once Upon a Banana Peel follows the havoc that one little banana peel can cause. The humor contained in this simple picture book will delight young “readers.” Because the book, like all wordless picture books, is so sequential, viewers will really have to use their brains to follow the funny story.
My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann. While this book is not completely wordless, it has few words, and many pages appear with no words at all. Viewers of this almost wordless picture book will be able to decipher the story without being able to read the words. Another humorous book, My Friend Rabbit follows mouse, and his mischievous friend rabbit who always means well but seems to get into trouble. Children will laugh out loud looking at the illustrations and figuring out the story in this book.
Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola. Well known author and illustrator Tomie dePaola puts a little humor in the illustrations of this book that follows an old lady trying tom make pancakes for her breakfast. One of the simpler wordless picture books I’ve featured, Pancakes for Breakfast is a great beginning wordless picture book.
The next time you are perusing the aisles of your local library or mega-bookseller, take a look at the wordless picture books. There are dozens of great wordless picture books out there, these featured books are only a few of my favorites. Wordless picture books can be a great tool for helping young children learn and feel a sense of accomplishment that they just read a story all by themselves.