Storytime in early learning programs is a time for learning through observation and conversation. Children learn a variety of skills when they look through books and when books are read to them – and picture books without words can be especially beneficial! Wordless picture books are stories that are told through illustrations only, which inspires children to think creatively about what they see on the book’s pages. In this article, we explore the benefits of wordless picture books and share a few of our favorites.
Benefits of Wordless Picture Books
Children’s books without words encourage little ones to pay close attention to the details of the imagery. These books also spark meaningful, learning-rich conversations about what kinds of things are happening in the stories and what might come next. Through these interactions, children are learning a variety of skills, including the following…
Attention to detail. To follow along with the story, children will have to pay close attention to the details of each illustration. An article from Scholastic explains that “wordless picture books leave a lot to the imagination. But that doesn’t mean there’s no storyline! Full of vivid illustrations, these books encourage children to use the detailed images to pick up on context clues and figure out what’s happening.”
Creativity and collaboration. Picture books without words spark creativity by encouraging children to fill in the storyline! Children in group settings can bounce ideas off one another about what they think might be happening on each page. This encourages them to collaborate as they work to put all of their ideas together and form one storyline.
Vocabulary and verbal language skills. Wordless books encourage children to interpret images and make up their own stories, and share their observations by communicating them to caregivers and peers. These conversations support language and listening skills, and introduce children to new words, phrases, and concepts.
Reading skills for multiple home languages. One of the best things about wordless picture books is that they are not limited to just one language! This means that everyone can participate in storytime, as educators and children incorporate words from different languages to talk about the story and interpret the illustrations.
Tips for Introducing Wordless Picture Books
While there is no “right” or “wrong” way to read a wordless picture book, it might be helpful to incorporate some of the following tips from Reading Rockets when you introduce these books to the children in your care.
Take your time exploring the details of the images. Spend time looking at the cover and talking about the book’s title. Based on those two things, make a few predictions about the story.
Expand children’s learning with follow-up questions. Encourage children to explore the book and to share their interpretation of the illustrations with you. In these conversations, encourage deeper learning by asking “what,” “why,” and “how” questions to invite children to add more detailed information to their interpretation of the story. You can keep the conversation and inquiry going by asking follow-up questions, such as: What pictures helped you tell the story? What was your favorite part of your story? How do you think the characters were feeling?
Popular Wordless Children’s Books