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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

A few words about wordless picture books

March 11, 2013

Wordless picture books are books are told entirely through their illustrations — they are books without words, or sometimes just a few words. Sharing wordless books at home or at school gives us a chance to develop so many important literacy skills: listening, speaking, storytelling, vocabulary, comprehension, story structure, inference, cause and effect … the list goes on and on!

When my girls were young, we shared many happy bedtimes with Peggy Rathmann's Goodnight Gorilla and 10 Minutes to Bedtime. My girls just could not get enough of those pictures and that silliness! They loved using different voices for the characters, and each one told the stories with their own special plot twists.

That's really the beauty of wordless books, I think. No story is right or wrong, and stories can be as simple or as complex as the situation dictates. I know wordless books are often used in ELL classrooms, with adult learners, and with learners with hearing impairments.

Not surprisingly, several wordless books have won the Caldecott Award or been Honor books over the years, including A Ball for Daisy (2012 Winner), The Lion and the Mouse (2010 Winner), Flotsam (2007 Winner) and Tuesday (1992 Winner). I apologize to the children's literature experts reading this! I am sure I've missed some from my list but these are among our favorites.

These and several other favorite wordless books are on our Pinterest page. Enjoy! And if you've got a wordless book recommendation for me, please leave the title below!

Wordless PIcture Books


One of our favorites is Bow Wow Bugs a Bug by Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash, I thought it was a bit strange, but my daughter LOVED it!

One of the best resources for teaching my kinders how to use illustrations to tell a story has been The Red Book By Barbara Lehman. It has good text complexity as well to make them think.

Fabulous thoughts here! Thanks for reminding us of the importance of wordless picture books and their value!

I love Free Fall, Sector 7, and Mr Wuffles by David Wiesner. Zoom by the same author as Museum Trip is good too. I did a unit on wordless books in my fourth grade class last year. Students love it!

I remember the bed time books with my kids. No words, just pictures. Make your own story. This post brings back some great memories.Eddie

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"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." — Frederick Douglass