We’ve been on a wordless picture book kick at our house. Don’t get me wrong, nothing takes the place of reciting an author’s thoughtfully composed prose. Still, like us, you might be surprised by how much constructive mileage you can get out of a book told entirely with illustrations.
Digested and appreciated in a variety of different ways, wordless picture books work regardless of a child’s reading level, age, or whether there’s even an adult around to assist them. Kids can study the pictures and piece together the story on their own, building visual literacy skills along the way as they develop a sense of how stories operate. We’ve had endless fun listening to what kids come up with in terms of their own storytelling. And as you might expect, there’s always silently marveling at the charming artwork.
Here are the books currently stacked on our reading table. Let us know what wordless books tickle your fancy.
The Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriquez
Fox bolts from the underbrush, grabs Hen and then high tails it off into the woods. Hen’s friends, Bear, Rabbit and Rooster give chase, ending with a surprise and touching twist. Expressive and gestural ink and wash artwork, laid out in a chase-friendly, long and thin shaped book.
Anno’s Journey by Mitsumasa Anno
A traveler treks through the countryside villages of northern Europe. Presented from a bird's eye view, packed full of meticulously drawn architecture and landscapes, and full of allusions to folklore, fairy tales and French Impressionist paintings. Like an old-world version of Where's Waldo.
Where Is the Cake? by T.T. Khing
Two possums steal a pink frosted cake from a dog family and an epic chase ensues through bamboo forests, and boulder outcrops. Like several books packed into one, each page includes a variety of creatures, each on their own private adventure.
Also be sure to check out the sequel, Where’s the Cake Now!
Flotsam by David Wiesner
A boy finds a barnacle-encrusted camera at the beach, develops the film he finds inside and discovers a hidden underwater world chock full of fantastical scenes; mechanical fish, islands on the backs of gigantic starfish, octopuses in armchairs reading to their children, and puffer fish outfitted as hot air balloons. Vivid watercolor illustrations, and visual story telling at its best. You can’t go wrong David Wiesner.
The Adventures of Polo by Regis Faller
Polo, an upbeat puppy, lives in a tree house on a tiny island, enjoys sailing, gardening, cooking, fishing, relaxing with a good book, riding clouds, and roasting hot dogs over lava. 80 pages full of vibrant illustrations, presented in a comic book panel format.
And best of all, once you've grown an attachment to this perky little fellow, there are four more companion titles in the Polo series.