How and Why to Read Wordless Picture Books

By Carla Juras

Reading wordless books with children can encourage creativity and imagination, but it also helps build literacy skills.  As a parent or caregiver you can help support your child’s literacy skills and help them get ready to read from infancy through childhood by reading wordless books with them.  Here’s how!

How to Read Wordless Picture Books 

  • Begin by looking at the cover. What can you see?

  • Read the title. Does the title give you any ideas for what the story might be about?

  • Take a picture walk.  Look through the pages of the book with the sole purpose of enjoying the pictures.

  • “Read” the story.  You might go first, inviting your child to add to your story as they see fit.  Add sound effects and interesting voices that suit the characters of your tale.

  • Encourage your child to take a turn telling their own version of the story.

  • Ask questions about the book - which is your favorite illustration? Do you have a favorite part?

Why Read Wordless Picture Books 

  • Encourages parent/child interactions (pointing at things you see can draw both parent and child’s attention together for a shared moment)

  • Enhances back and forth conversation and boosts vocabulary.

  • Encourages imagination and creativity.

  • Generates more language from children.

  • Children learn to read the pictures and become storytellers.

  • Appropriate for ALL age and ability levels.

Remember that there is no wrong way to read wordless picture books! Children will benefit from exploring wordless picture books with you. Sit with your child, explore the pages, follow their lead, point at the pictures and talk about what you see!  You have what it takes!

For additional ideas on how to support your child’s growing literacy skills visit our Sing. Say. Point. Play. website.

Here is a list of recommended Wordless Picture Books from our friend Mechelle Bernard of the Southfield Public Library

  • Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

  • Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle

  • The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee

  • The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

  • Breakfast for Jack  by Pat Schories 

  • Jack wants a Snack by Pat Schories

  • Oscar’s Tower of Flowers by Lauren Tobia

  • Flotsam by David Wiesner

  • Free Fall by  David Wiesner

  • Tuesday by David Wiesner

  • Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner

  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan

  • The Lion & The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Additional Articles on Wordless Picture Books

Using Wordless Picture Books to Support Emergent Literacy

Reading Without Words: The Why and How of Wordless Books

How to Read Wordless Picture Books


Want more ideas or questions? Call or text our care coordinators 844.456.5437


  • literacy
  • reading

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