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Why Wordless Picture Books are Important

Often, we associate literacy with the words on the page. After all, literacy is “the ability to read and write.” However, literacy also includes using language passively which includes listening and speaking. We think that literacy skills are built only on books containing language, and we undervalue the amazing wordless picture books available. Wordless picture books use illustrations to tell the story. The beauty of this style is that each reader must create their own narrative for the images.

Everyone knows the old adage: “a picture says a thousand words.” The reader is required to engage and think about the words each illustration is conveying. In addition to traditional visual language learning, wordless picture books can improve comprehension skills and critical thinking. Being able to point to each item on a page and identify it is a wonderful skill, but describing what is happening on a page is a deeper level of understanding how we assign words to objects and actions.

Picture books opened on table

There’s a plethora of wordless picture books to choose from, including stories about a dog and a ball to an incredible tale about the Underground Railroad. Many have even received the high Caldecott Award honor or medal. Below is a list of a few of our favorite wordless picture books, available now at our library:

“Mr. Wuffles,” by David Wiesner: A Caldecott honor by the wordless master, David Wiesner, about a cat who takes interest in a spaceship of aliens.

“A Ball for Daisy,” by Chris Raschka: A small white dog loses his orange ball to another hound but finds friendship in the process.

“Flotsam,” by David Wiesner: A 2007 Caldecott winner about a boy, a beach, and a number of unusual discoveries of items washed ashore.

“Good Night, Gorilla,” by Peggy Rathmann: A funny good-night romp set during bedtime at the zoo.

“Have You Seen My Duckling,” by Nancy Tarufi: A Caldecott honor book about a mischievous missing duckling and Mother duck’s ‘search.’

“Inside Outside,” by Lizi Boyd: From the author of “Flashlight,” another wordless book, Boyd creates a simple yet attractive book with whimsical die-cuts throughout and a lot to explore.

For more suggestions, stop by the library and we’ll help you out!

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