Reading Wordless Picture Books
by Tiffany Coulson, Mattawa Library
You may be surprised to learn there are over 100 wordless books for adults, teens, and children available from NCW Libraries. Did you know that reading wordless picture books with your children will increase reading comprehension and build their vocabulary? In fact children can learn more from talking about a wordless book than from just hearing someone read a book with words. The fun part about wordless books is that you get to choose the words as you read the pictures and talk about the story.
Conversation is the key to understanding a wordless book!
- Look at the cover and talk about what you think the book will be about.
- Then take a “story walk” just quickly going page by page.
- Once you have been introduced to the book, you can really start to share the story!
Here’s how to get started “reading” pictures in a wordless book! Look at this picture from the Owly stories, by author Andy Runton (used with permission). Owly books are available from the library or as a free online comic.
First ask simple questions that describe picture elements.
“What do you see?”
“What big things do you see?”
“What little things do you see?”
“How many colors can you show me in the picture?”
Next ask questions that will help build understanding.
“Where do you think the Owl is?” “What do you see that makes you think that?”
“Do you think it is daytime or nighttime?” “ What do you see that makes you think that?”
As the child gets used to sharing their ideas, you can move to questions that require them to think more deeply about what they see. Remember there are no “right” answers in a wordless book. This is a time to listen to everyone’s ideas about the story!
“How do you think Owly is feeling?”
“Have you ever felt like that?”
“What do you think is going to happen next?”
NCW Libraries has a wide variety of wordless books for younger as well as older readers! Here are links to some of our favorites! (You will find many are
part of a series or that the author has written a lot more wordless books).
Simple Stories for Younger Readers
Field Trip to the Moon by John Hare (print)
I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët (print)
Time Flies by Eric Rohmann (print)
Another by Christian Robinson (print)
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle (print)
Sea of Dreams by Dennis Nolan (print)
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs (print)
Journey by Aaron Becker (print)
Sector 7 by David Wiesner (print)
Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman (print)
Chalk by Bill Thomson (print)
Thunderstorm by Arthur Geisert (print)
Draw by Raúl Colón (print)
The Only Child by Guojing (print)
Mirror by Jeannie Baker (print)
BirdCatDog by Lee Nordling & Meritxell Bosch (print)
Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson; illustrated by Sydney Smith
More Complex Stories for Middle Grade to Adult Readers
Or try this activity from the Owly comic (used with permission from Andy Runton at http://www.andyrunton.com/owly/). Print out the comic, cut apart each picture, then have your child put the pictures back in order to tell their own story. If you need a place to print, just visit your local library!