Reading Without Words: Wordless Picture Books and Early Literacy


Books without words can help your young child learn to read.  Yes, you heard that correctly.  Looking at books which tell a story using only pictures can help young children with many skills, including vocabulary development and narrative skills.  The problem with these books is that many parents are uncomfortable “reading” a book like this.  Here are a few tips on how to read wordless picture books with your little ones.  Let the imagination fun begin!

  • Make up your own story as you go along. Use your own words to describe what’s happening in the pictures, how the character feels, etc. If your child can speak, ask them to help you make up the story.
  • Play “I Spy” with the pictures as you go through the book. Use phrases like, “Where is the bird?” or “What is that, sitting in the tree?” This will help with vocabulary acquisition.
  • Discuss with your child what you see happening in the pictures. “Do you think the girl looks sad? Why? What happened to make her sad?”

To get you started, here are a few amazing wordless picture books to share with your child:

Sea of Dreams by Dennis Nolan

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Seasons by Blexbolex

Flotsom by David Wiesner

Where’s Walrus by Stephen Savage

-Liz V., Youth Services Librarian at
CADL Holt-Delhi

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