Wordless Picture Books

A wordless picture book? Not everyone is skilled at improv, so how do you read without words?

According to Reading Rockets––a wonderful national public media literacy initiative offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help––sharing wordless books is a terrific way to build important literacy skills. This includes listening skills, vocabulary, comprehension, and increased awareness of how stories are structured.

When it comes to wordless picture books, you and your reader are the narrators. First, knowing that there's no wrong or right way to read one often helps alleviate the pressure you and your reader might be feeling. So how does it work? The reader uses the vocabulary they do know to create an oral tale of what is illustrated on the pages in their own words. It's really fun because the tale can change from reading to reading! Once they get started, children love wordless picture books. Wordless picture books are a role reversal where the young reader is the storyteller rather than the adult. Try exploring this wonderful genre of picture books and give your young reader the chance to tell you a story.

Here are a few of Children's Librarian Amy Caswell's favorite wordless picture books.


Journey by Aaron Becker

Journey A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. This wordless picture book is about self-determination—and unexpected friendship.



Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie de Paola

Pancakes for Breakfast On a cold morning, a little old lady decides to make pancakes for breakfast, but has a hard time finding all of the ingredients. This wordless picture book tells a story of determination and humor, ideal for young readers who can narrate the story as they go.



Have You Seen My Duckling? By Nancy Tafuri

Have You Seen My Duckling? Mother duck needs help to find her mischievous missing duckling in this Caldecott Honor Book. She asks the other pond animals for help (though the missing one is never lost, only cleverly concealed in each picture).