Wordless picture books are a lovely way to engage children in the storytelling process. Plus, tired parents can get their kids to read their own bedtime stories! Some parents shy away from reading wordless books, but don’t be afraid! If you’re not a wordless book convert be sure to read my parent tips for sharing wordless books with your kids.
Wordless picture books are perfect for reading to siblings of different ages:
As a mom of two children with a 4 year age gap, I benefited greatly from wordless picture books. Both boys could participate and they fed off each other, each one noticing different aspects of the picture. I even think my younger son learned more about the books from his brother than he does from me.
Wordless picture books
Here are some of my favorite wordless picture books, but there are so many more, and a useful technique for finding more is to look for books by the same author. (Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links)
Journey by Aaron Becker. This trilogy of wordless picture books is amazingly gorgeous and is an absolute must read. Using a red crayon, a girl draws a red door on the wall of her room and enters into a parallel world where adventures with flying carpets, evil rulers, airships, and daring escapes await.
Here I Am by Patti Kim. A lovely story about an immigrant boy getting used to living in a busy American city, where the noise, food and people are all strange and new. I love the way the wordlessness of this book relates to how an immigrant might feel when he can’t understand the language of his new home.
Flora and the Flamingo. Molly Idle has written an entire series about Flora, and this is the first. This story of friends learning to move in harmony is not only wordless, but a lift the flap book and completely delightful.
The Boy and the Airplane by Mark Pett. A charming book that is also a lesson in perseverance and growth mindset! When his new plane gets stuck on a building, a boy must figure out how to retrieve it.
Changes, Changes. Author Pat Hutchins (Rosie’s Walk, Goodnight, Owl!) is a sentimental favorite of mine. In this winsome story, two toys find build a block house. When things start to go awry, they cleverly rebuild to keep up with the changing situation.
Where’s Walrus? by Steven Savage. This tale of a walrus who escapes from a city zoo is an adventurous wordless book. In order to elude the zookeeper, walrus dons various hats until he finds the one that fits just right.
Rainstorm. Barbara Lehman is a master wordless storyteller. The Red Book was her Caldecott-winner, but I love Rainstorm, a book which reminds me of the classic hidden passage-way fantasies of childhood. It is an imaginative story about a boy who finds a magical underground tunnel that leads to a faraway island and a new group of friends.
Wonder Bear by Tao Nyeu. An oversized book that was a winner with both my 4 and 8 year old who started narrating the story to each other, I barely had to get involved! One day a girl and boy start a garden. The packet of seeds grows steadily into watermelons, but the hat they planted quickly grows into a magical vine that signals the beginning of a whimsical adventure.
A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog. Mercer Mayer’s classic series about a boy, a dog and a frog is irresistible. In the first book, the pictures tell the story of a boy trying to catch a frog while he dog looks on. These books are particularly delightful for kids who like to make silly noises when reading wordless books. The books’ humor will solicit all sorts of giggles and sound effects. Not to be missed.
Truckby Donald Crews. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say I read this book 38,568 times to each of my sons. That’s an exact number. Crews’ signature bold graphic style illustrates the cross-country journey of a truck loaded with bicycles.
Chalk. Bill Thomson’s incredibly detailed and realistic illustrations are the center point of this story about a diverse group of kids who discover a bag of chalk that brings drawings to live. Kiddo gasped a knowing, “Ohhhh!” when the plot came to it’s clever conclusion.
Wave. Suzy Lee has several popular wordless books under her belt. I love this one about a girl’s day at the shore simply because it is so very, very, happy. You will smile.
Zoom by Istvan Banyai. Wordless picture books are particularly suited for stories that hinge on changing perspective. Such is the case with Zoom and as you might guess from the title, the action (if one might call it that) is the ever increasing distance the reader maintains from the opening image. But distance is not the only perspective that changes…
Mirror by Jeannie Baker. I love this wordless picture book which compares and contrasts the a day in the life of an Australian and a Moroccan family. Lovely and a good conversation starter.
Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith. This is such a lovely story of how important it is to notice the little details around us. While her dad is preoccupied with the “busy” things of life (cell phones, charging ahead), a young girl picks the flowers in sidewalk cracks and begins to give them away in random acts of kindness which begin to transform the lives around her.
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka. I just love the movement in Raschka’s illustrations. And the story is quite emotional, as well! It’s a story of one dog’s love for his ball and what happens when that ball meets with misfortune.
Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day. Baby’s mom leaves Carl the Rottweiler in charge when they head out. Carl may be a bit too lenient as a babysitter, but he sure is fun. This über-popular book has several sequels.
Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd. You will love this clever wordless book about a young boy who engages in indoor and outdoor activities. The story tracks over the seasons and wonderful little die cut pages allow for sweet discoveries along the way.
The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, The Bard by Gregory Rogers. In this wordless book, a boy chases a runaway soccer ball backstage only to find himself transported to the world of Shakespeare. The bard chases the boy off the stage and they embark on a chaotic journey around Elizabethan London, picking up a bear, an imprisoned baron, and leaping onto a barge inhabited by Queen Elizabeth.
Sector 7. No discussion of wordless books would be complete with a title from David Wiesner. During a trip to the Empire State Building, a mischievous cloud takes a boy up to “Sector 7,” where the clouds are formed. When the clouds decide they want to become something other than amorphous blobs, the boy takes matters into his own hands. Having worked (very badly) with watercolors, I find it incredible that Wiesner uses watercolors for all his book illustrations, including 3 Caldecott award winners and 2 honor books. Amazing.
The Snowman. This classic story of a snowman who flies around the world with a boy is known to many, but it wasn’t until recently that I read the entire book. My verdict: magical and yet so sad! But the kids love it and the illustrations are lovely.
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