Homework Wordless

They help visual thinkers play to their strengths
Reading is hard for beginners, so taking some of the pressure off with wordless picture books can build confidence. This type of book helps convey the message of the story without the anxiety associated with text, says Gabrielle Miller, Ed.D., national executive director of Raising A Reader. Reluctant readers can get comfortable with the idea of “reading.”

They incorporate context clues
With no set narrative to guide the plot, wordless picture books leave a lot to the imagination. But that doesn’t mean there’s no story line! Full of vivid illustrations, these books encourage children to use the detailed images to pick up on context clues and figure out what’s happening. Those same clues will be a factor in decoding text later, and recognizing their importance can help kids become stronger readers.

They welcome retelling
Whether you reread it once or every night at bedtime, there’s always a new direction for a wordless picture book to take. Encouraging kids to think of new possibilities and reinterpret the story in different ways is a fun way to get them excited about reading. And revving up their imagination can inspire them to create their own stories and work their way up to writing, too!

Page-Turning Picks


by Lizi Boyd
A little boy explores the backyard at night with a fashlight — what kinds of creatures will he find? Silly, inspired illustrations that play on the nighttime tableau will fascinate your little one. Chronicle, $17. Ages 2 to 6.

by Aaron Becker
Armed with just her red marker, the adventurous girl at the center of this award-winning story is transported to a magical world after drawing a passageway on her bedroom wall. Candlewick, $16. Ages 3 to 7.

Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad
by Henry Cole
A young girl finds an escaped slave in her family’s barn. Should she help the runaway or turn a blind eye? A story about courage and humanity, this is a must-read for kids and adults alike. Scholastic, $17. Ages 8 to 10.Buy it here

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Photo Credit: Joey Moon

Today's guest-post is written by Stephanie Sigal, M.A. CCC-SLP. She not only provides us with some really nice tips for reading wordless picture books and describing silly pictures with kids, she also provides an extensive list of wordless picture books and silly pictures. (My personal favorites are the Frog Series Wordless Picture books. I also *love* Ezra Jack Keats books.) Enjoy!

Wordless picture books and funny pictures are excellent tools to address vocabulary, word finding, grammar, articulation, attention and pre-reading skills. Goals to improve each of these naturally fall into place when “reading” wordless picture books and describing funny pictures. Even better, the variety of wordless picture books and funny pictures available allows for activities to remain fun and fresh. You can use wordless picture books and funny pictures for…


Sometimes a child can say a sound (e.g., /s/) in sentences, but needs extra practice in conversation.  Wordless books and funny pictures can bridge the gap between sentence level and conversation. 


Take turns with your child describing the pictures you see. If your child leaves out important information when describing scenes in books or pictures, you can ask an open ended question (e.g., "Hmmm - What's happening over here?").  If he can't describe what's happening, describe it for him.  Perhaps your description will improve his awareness to be more specific next time.  

With Wordless Picture Books

When appropriate, before turning the page, excitedly ask “What’s going to happen next?”  When given the opportunity to make a prediction (a pre-reading skill), children combine verbal and critical thinking skills.  

With Funny Pictures

Describing funny pictures is entertaining!  An instant smile appears when a child is shown a picture of the Statue of Liberty holding an ice cream sundae.  This task allows your child to link visual and cognitive skills, which is crucial for pre-reading.  Funny pictures need to be carefully examined, just as words need to be looked at closely to notice blends. What’s more, when a child focuses and attends to a funny picture and can explain why it is crazy a polar bear is on the beach, he is using attention and reasoning skills and making inferences. 

Social-Emotional Awareness 

A child may better appreciate the feelings of others if he can interpret and describe feelings.  When the opportunity presents itself, ask your child how a main character feels.  You may need to be more specific: “How does Jack the dog feel after his family left him without breakfast?”   Provide explanations as necessary.

Looking for some wordless picture books and funny pictures?

Wordless Books and Caldecott Winners

“Jack” Books

The "Jack" books by Pat Schories are a great introduction to wordless picture books. While the Jack books do not need to be read in any particular order, the following order works nicely:  

Breakfast for Jack

Children are interested in the characters in Jack's life.  Searching the detailed pictures for surprises is motivating, facilitates attention and assists in developing visual scanning skills.

Frog Series

The Frog Series by Mercer Mayer (and sometimes Marianna Mayer as well) is an appropriate series to try next.  Again, the books don’t need to be read in any particular order, but given the language skills required within each book, this order may be preferable:

Frog, Where Are You?

A Boy, A Dog and A Frog

One Frog Too Many

A Boy, A Dog, A Frog and A Friend

Frog on His Own

Frog Goes To Dinner

I was first introduced to The Frog Series in my graduate school clinic.  School-age children described scenes in a Frog book chosen for them during an evaluation so we could obtain a narrative sample.

More Favorite Wordless Picture Books

Changes, Changes by Pat Hutchins

Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie DePaola

Carl Goes Shopping by Alexandra Day

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Hug by Jez Alborough

Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins

Chalk by Bill Thomson

Window by Jeannie Baker 

(best for older children, purchase a used copy)

No, David! by David Shannon 

(My favorite, essentially wordless book, also a Caldecott*)

You can also use picture books with text, as long as the pictures are detailed.  This is generally more difficult than using wordless picture books, but if you try, it will work best with *Caldecott Medal / Honor Books.  One of the criteria for the Caldecott Award is that a child can interpret the story directly from the pictures.  A child doesn’t need to know how to read the text, in fact, cover text if your child can read, so he can freely choose his own words.


Caldecott Favorites

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems

Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems

Flotsam (This is also a wordless picture book) by David Wiesner (Tuesday and Sector 7 are good for school age children)

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster, Illustrated by Chris Raschka

When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang

The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey

Rumpelstiltskin by Paul Zelinsky

King Bidgood's In the Bathtub by Don and Audrey Wood

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

One Fine Day by Nonny Hogrogian

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Umbrella by Taro Yashima

A Tree Is Nice by Marc Simont

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

The pictures in books by Leo Lionni and Ezra Jack Keats also allow for great descriptions.

Funny Pictures

I often provide What’s Wrong coloring books to children I work with so they can discuss one page a day with a parent as part of their homework.  I often leave the wordless picture book that we read together in therapy for homework as well.

What's Wrong? by Anna Pomaska is good to start with.  Then try What's Wrong with this Picture? also by Pomaska. 

What’s your favorite wordless picture book or funny picture game?


Stephanie Sigal, M.A. CCC-SLP is a speech language therapist practicing on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, NYC.  She works with babies, toddlers and school age children with expressive language delay and articulation disorders in their homes.  To learn more about Stephanie, please visit her website www.sayandplayfamily.com and blog www.blog.sayandplayfamily.com.

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