Discover the benefits of wordless picture books

You know the importance of reading to your young child, but have you considered reading a wordless book to your child? A wordless book is a picture book tells the story solely through the pictures.

Adorable toddler with his grandfather relaxing at home reading a book togetherWhen we read, we capture the meaning of the book via the words and pictures. If there are no words, then we rely on the pictures. A child does this naturally. He/she thoughtfully looks at a picture book. When you give a child a picture book with striking illustrations, you are inviting the child to “co-author” the story. That is pretty powerful.

Reading a wordless book is a valuable introduction into the world of books and reading, and are a beneficial tool in developing literacy skills. Young children learn how a book works – front to back, top to bottom, and left to right. A wordless book engages young children in comprehension, critical thinking and storytelling. Wordless books also develop a greater understanding of story structure (characters, plot, etc.).

Research supports that when parents read wordless books with their young children it leads to more complex conversations and a richer vocabulary. Wordless books build the confidence of early readers and of reluctant readers. These books are accessible to children and families who speak any language. A wordless picture book encourages a child to use their imagination to retell the story again and again inspiring a love of books and art.

Tips for reading wordless books

Reading a wordless book may seem awkward or intimidating. Consider the opportunity it presents to invent a storyline, choose characters and create dialogue. Remember there is no wrong or right way to read a wordless book. Here are some tips for reading wordless books.

  • Mother and Son Reading Books at the Garden, with Crayons on the Picnic TableLook at the cover for clues about the story.
  • Describe the details.
  • Point to the pictures and connect your descriptive words with the picture.
  • Give vivid explanations of what is happening in the picture.
  • Wonder aloud.
  • Ask your child questions. Such as: Where is he going? Why did she do that?
  • Connect the events in the story with the next page.
  • Add dramatic flair with interesting voices and sound effects.

View complete list

As the Early Childhood Learning Coordinator, Sherry is focused on engaging young children and their families in play-based early learning experiences. The Learn & Play Bus and its service are at the heart of her work. Sherry has a background in early childhood education.