How Wordless Books Can Help Your Kid Learn to Read

Common Sense Media

This post originally appeared on Common Sense Media.

Anyone who’s “read” a picture book can tell you that you don’t need words to tell a story. Prereading toddlers and preschoolers can follow a story told in pictures, a parent or child can narrate the action, and the cozy, empowering experience can help kids develop positive associations with books.

And even though kids aren’t reading words, it turns out that wordless books can develop important skills:

  • Literacy. Toddlers and preschoolers can learn how a book works: front to back, left to right, top to bottom. They practice listening, comprehension, and interpreting visual images. Following a story helps kids understand the structure of storytelling: cause and effect, conflict and resolution, character development, and a narrative arc with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Vocabulary and verbal skills. By reading a wordless book with an adult or a more knowledgeable peer, kids can learn to identify objects, people, places, animals, and actions and narrate a story based on visual cues. This helps kids understand stories once they start reading and can inspire them to write their own stories—an expression of literacy.
  • Confidence. A toddler or preschooler is proud to have finished a favorite book and to have understood the whole story from start to finish without adult help.
  • A love of books and art. Wordless books can be enjoyed by readers of all ages and can develop a taste for reading for pleasure and delight in illustration. 
  • Easy access. Books without text are great for kids who speak different languages, are learning English, or have developmental or learning difficulties that make reading words challenging.

And wordless books are growing in popularity and garnering kudos. Since 2007, six wordless books have won the prestigious Caldecott Medal—the top U.S. literary award for illustrated books:

A Ball for Daisy, age 3+. The tale of a cute little dog who loves, then loses a favorite ball and is restored by getting a new one.

The Lion & the Mouse, age 3+. A beautifully illustrated version of Aesop’s fable about a lion who shows mercy to a mouse, who in turn frees the lion from a poacher’s net; wordless except for animal sounds.  

Flotsam, age 4+. A boy discovers an undersea fantasy world when he develops the film from an underwater camera he finds washed up on the shore.

Wolf in the Snow, age 4+. A girl finds a lost wolf pup separated from its pack, returns the pup to its mother and gets lost, until the wolf pack helps reunite the girl and her mother; wordless except for animal sounds.  

Journey, age 5+. A dreamy fantasy adventure that starts with a lonely girl drawing a door that leads into a colorful enchanted world where she finds excitement, danger, and friendship.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, 8+. A middle-grade novel about an orphaned boy who lives in a Paris train station (the book was made into the film Hugo).

Kids still need exposure to print, especially kids who may not have a lot of books at home. And how many literacy skills a child gains may depend on how involved the adult reader is in pointing out and reinforcing elements and vocabulary in the story. But the bottom line is that wordless books are loads of fun to read together and can be entertaining and empowering for kids of various ages to read on their own.

Comments 43

  1. You really make it appear really easy together with your presentation but I in finding this topic to be really something which I feel I’d by no means understand. It kind of feels too complex and very broad for me. I’m taking a look forward to your subsequent submit, I’ll attempt to get the cling of it!|

  2. This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post. Also, I have shared your website in my social networks!|

  3. Its such as you learn my thoughts! You appear to understand so much about this, like you wrote the e book in it or something. I think that you simply could do with some to drive the message home a bit, however other than that, that is magnificent blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.|

  4. Greetings from Idaho! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your website on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the information you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m surprised at how quick your blog loaded on my phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, superb blog!|

  5. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your blog? My blog is in the very same niche as yours and my visitors would certainly benefit from a lot of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this alright with you. Regards!|

  6. Hi would you mind letting me know which webhost you’re using? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most. Can you suggest a good internet hosting provider at a honest price? Many thanks, I appreciate it!|

  7. I’ve been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or weblog posts in this sort of house . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site. Reading this information So i am satisfied to express that I’ve an incredibly excellent uncanny feeling I came upon just what I needed. I so much indisputably will make sure to do not fail to remember this website and give it a glance regularly.|

  8. With havin so much content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement? My blog has a lot of unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my permission. Do you know any ways to help stop content from being ripped off? I’d really appreciate it.|

  9. Excellent beat ! I would like to apprentice whilst you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a weblog website? The account aided me a appropriate deal. I were tiny bit familiar of this your broadcast offered vivid clear idea|

  10. Have you ever considered creating an ebook or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog based on the same ideas you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers would value your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email.|

  11. Thank you for any other excellent article. The place else may anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect method of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am on the look for such information.|

  12. We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your site offered us with valuable info to work on. You’ve done an impressive job and our whole community will be thankful to you.|

  13. I’ve been surfing on-line more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet might be much more useful than ever before.|

  14. Hello fantastic website! Does running a blog similar to this take a great deal of work? I’ve no knowledge of coding but I had been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyhow, should you have any ideas or techniques for new blog owners please share. I know this is off topic however I just wanted to ask. Cheers!|

  15. You really make it seem really easy with your presentation but I to find this matter to be actually one thing which I believe I might never understand. It kind of feels too complicated and very large for me. I’m looking forward to your subsequent submit, I’ll attempt to get the grasp of it!|

  16. Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any assistance is very much appreciated.|

  17. I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic information I was looking for this information for my mission.|

  18. Its like you learn my thoughts! You appear to know so much approximately this, such as you wrote the e-book in it or something. I feel that you just can do with some to drive the message home a bit, however instead of that, this is great blog. An excellent read. I’ll definitely be back.|

  19. Hi there exceptional blog! Does running a blog like this require a massive amount work? I’ve absolutely no understanding of computer programming but I had been hoping to start my own blog in the near future. Anyhow, should you have any ideas or techniques for new blog owners please share. I know this is off topic but I simply had to ask. Thanks a lot!|

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.