I love wordless picture books, the imaginary possibilities are simply endless. Children love studying the pictures, and I love the excitement they show when they find something new every time they look at the book. As a teacher, I love the number of different interpretations that these books reveal. Wordless books are a great tool to spark creativity, story-telling, and narrative writing skills.
Here’s a list of our favorite wordless books (click on the book titles to purchase yourself a copy):
Home by Jeannie Baker
I have vivid memories of sitting in my school library while our librarian (do they still exist?!) showed my class the amazing work of Jeannie Baker. Home is an outstanding exploration of nature and the world around us. The images are simply exquisite, the classroom applications are countless, and the discussions that stem from Home are unique every time. Home is a must have for every teacher!
Window by Jeannie Baker
I think Window is the very first Jeannie Baker book I ever saw. I remember being mesmerized by the detail in the illustrations, and I remember asking the librarian why the book had no words. The library simply said that this was a special book because we got to tell our own story and it would be a different story for everyone. Her reply has stuck with me, and perhaps that’s one of the reason I adore children’s literature so much now!
Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage
Where’s Walrus? is perfect for younger children. It’s a search-each-page kind of book, perfect for a game of I Spy. Without the need for words, this book tells the story of an incredibly cheeky (and clever) walrus who manages to escape from the zoo. Young children delight in his antics as he tries various disguises in a bid to hide from the zookeeper. This book also makes a superb platform to begin talking about jobs in our community.
Zoom by Istvan Banyai
Zoom is a truly thought-provoking book. This is one of those books that can be enjoyed by children of any age. Flick through the pages from start to end and you’ll be left with the realization that we are all just a tiny speck in the world around us. Start at the end and flick back through to the beginning and you realize that we are so much bigger than we first thought. Istvan Banyai has done an amazing job in creating this book!
Leaf by Stephen Michael King
Leaf is an amazing book that teaches children that everyone has a special part within themselves that is worth nurturing. This book is a must-have for every classroom; it really is one of those books that every child needs to experience. The illustrations tell the story of a boy who does not want a hair cut, so he runs away and a seed falls into his hair and begins to grow. Of course, he nurtures this seed and learns a lot about himself in the process.
Sunshine by Jan Ormerod
Sunshine is a sweet little book for young children. Through illustration, it tells the story of a young girl as she goes through her routine of getting ready for the day. Sunshine is the perfect book for encouraging young children to develop their language and story-telling skills. It’s also a great way to begin teaching children about making comparisons.
Moonlight by Jan Ormerod
Similar to Sunshine, Moonlight is a great book about routines for younger children. This is a great book to guide young children through their routine, and to open the door for discussions about behavioral expectations around bed time.
Changes, Changes by Pat Hutchins
Changes, Changes is a great book to explore creativity and imaginative play with young children. Using simple, bold colors, the book tells the story of wooden toys using other toys to solve problems and satisfy their needs. It’s a great story for young children to practice their reading skills with.
A Long Piece of String by William Wondriska
I love sharing this book with my students. I start by showing them each page, giving them time to study the pictures. I encourage them to talk about what they see. The story follows a piece of string, and on each page the string wraps itself around something new. On the last page, readers are asked a seemingly simple question, and a quick review of all pages reveal a secret that many children miss.
The Red Book by Barbara Lehman
The Red Book is an interesting wordless book, and is a great introduction to magical fantasy for young children. This book is also great to use with older children to develop their creativity and critical thinking. The pages tell the story of a young girl who finds a book on her way to school. She begins to explore the book, only to discover that someone else is inside the book! The ending of the book is a great springboard for creative writing for older children.
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
The Lion and the Mouse is an inspiring take on the classic Aesop tale and the visual story-telling within this book is certainly worth noting. There are so many teaching points in this book, from basic humanity to issues around animal poaching, making it the perfect book for children of all ages.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
This is a cute little story about a young boy and the adventure he has with a Snowman. The animated television special allows children to compare different media types.
Chalk by Bill Thomson
Bill Thomson has done an amazing job creating Chalk. The pages tell the story of a group of children who find a bag of magical chalk. The images are quite realistic and may be a tad scary for younger children. This book presents an amazing view of the imagination of young children.
Owly by Andy Runton
Owly is so impressive, there’s a whole series of the books now! Owly depicts the adventures of a little owl who is looking to make new friends and have adventures. Presented as a graphic novel, this series of books is popular among 5-10 year olds.
Mirror by Jeannie Baker
I know, another book by Jeannie Baker! But I can’t make a list of wordless books without include a lot of Jeannie Baker’s amazing work. Mirror is a compelling book, detailing the similarities and differences of different lifestyles around the world. It’s the perfect book for teaching diversity and multiculturalism.
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Shaun Tan has done an outstanding job of portraying the struggle of migrant workers. The Arrival tells the story of a man – a husband, a father- who travels to a new world as a migrant worker in search of a better life for his family. The pictures are quite striking and detailed. The illustrations and themes present in this book are aimed at older children.
Journey by Aaron Becker
With similarities to Harold and the Purple Crayon, Journey portrays the story of a young girl who draws a magical door on her bedroom wall and embarks on an adventure that is only limited by her imagination. This is a must-have book for every classroom.
The Chicken Thief by Béatrice Rodriguez
This is one of those crazy books that leaves the reader with a sense of “what did I just read?”… or, in this case, “what did I just look at?”! A fox steals a hen, and her friends try to save her. Seems simple enough. But as you delve deeper into the story, you understand that all is not as it seems. On a superficial level, the books seems kind of innocent enough – a story of true love overcoming diversity. But the more you think about it, the more you come to the understanding that there are deeper issues going on – can you say “Stockholm Syndrome”?! It’s an interesting book, young children would love the illustrations, older children can delve into the themes.
Rooster’s Revenge by Béatrice Rodriguez
This is the third in the series, after The Chicken Thief, and Fox and Hen Together. This is an interesting series, with the exploration of a variety of themes. My students preferred Rooster’s Revenge to The Chicken Thief, though probably only because dragons are all the rage at the moment!
Tuesday by David Wiesner
The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett
The Chicken’s Child by Margaret Hartelius
Draw by Raul Colon
Wave by Suzy Lee
Flotsam by David Wiesner
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
Sea of Dreams by Dennis Nolan
Ice by Arthur Geisert
Rainstorm by Barbara Lehman
Mudkin by Stephen Gammell
Trainstop by Barbara Lehman
A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog by Mercer Mayer
Time Flies by Eric Rohmann
Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman
Wonder Bear by Tao Nyeu
Bee & Bird by Craig Frazier
The Conductor by Laetitia Devernay
The Umbrella by Jan Brett
No Dogs Allowed! by Bill Wallace
Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack
Ball by Mary Sullivan
Bluebird by Bob Staake
Deep in the Forest by Brinton Turkle
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
Moo! by David LaRochelle
Oops by Arthur Geisert
Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola
Picturescape by Elisa Gutierrez
Re-Zoom by Istvan Banyai
Small, Medium and Large by Jane Monroe Donovan
There are some amazing books on this list. Do you use wordless picture books in your classroom? Comment below to let us know how you like to share these books with your students.