Discover the depth of visual perception joined with imagination through the artistry of wordless books for preschool on up. These small art galleries provide wonderful lessons to inspire creativity and observation in children of all ages including adults!
Whether you are seeing David Wiesner's work for the first time or that of Jerry Pinkney, these amazing illustrators will open windows of possibility which go beyond an illustrated story with none or very few words.
Wordless books for preschool empower young children to feel like readers. Even at such a young age they can understand what they see. This opens the opportunity for discussion and expanding oral vocabulary and language which are essential stepping stones to reading.
You may also notice that many of these titles display their Caldecott Medal earned by their illustrations. Each is a small art gallery created by amazing art masters!
Because these are Caldecott winners, you should be able to easily find a copy at your local public library to borrow.
Key Skills Wordless Books for Preschool
Wordless books for preschool provide practice in valuable pre-reading skills such as:
Sequencing - using the visual aspect of these books, allow children to tell you what happened first, next, and last.
Prediction - allow for kids to share what they think will happen next or how the story will play out.
Deductive reasoning - because this happened, we can deduce that it will cause something else to occur.
Vocabulary - although these wordless books for preschool have very few words, the discussions and story-telling they inspire promote the use of words.
When reading a wordless book, allow time for multiple readings.
First read: Silently turn the pages allowing plenty of time for observation of each. Have kids hold one finger in front of their mouth if needed to remind them to only use their eyes for this first read. Afterward, you may want to let them tell you about the story they saw occurring in the pages of the book. What are a few things they noticed?
Second read: Allow time for kids to share what they see and what they think is happening. See if they can remember and recount what is about to happen next.
Third read: Tell the story together orally while turning pages; also point out any words that have been included. Allow time for discussion of the story and lessons or thoughts you encounter.
Wordless Books for Preschool:
The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
The only words you'll find in this picture book are a few sounds made by the animals such as "Who-who-whooo," "Grrr," "scratch," and "squeak."
This classic Aesop fable shares the tale of a lion and a mouse who help each other. The contrast of the King of the jungle so large and ferocious with the small stature and meekness of the mouse make for a wonderful lesson that no matter your size, you matter and can help others.
After pointing out the few sound words in the book, make the sounds together as you come to them.
Discuss the contrast of big and little.
Allow for observation of any other animals in the illustrations.
If the animals were able to speak, what might the lion and mouse have said to each other? You may want to read through again allowing the children to speak for different characters.
Discuss how the lion and mouse may have been feeling at various points in the book.
Overall take your time allowing for the soaking up of the details found in the illustrations. Wordless books for preschool may have none or very few words, but they are not to be rushed.
Noah's Ark by Peter Spier
Noah's ark is a Bible story many children may already be familiar with. The illustrations walk through many different scenarios which Noah and his family may have experienced, some hard, some humorous and some everyday occurances.
The book only contains one page of text which is a poem called "The Flood" by Jacobus Revius (1586-1658). This makes for a fun opportunity to practice rhyming words.
Read the story from the Bible, Genesis 5:32-10:1; then allow the child to look through the book to retell the story.
Even wordless books for preschool offer opportunity to practice comprehension. Have children tell some of the things Noah had his family may have had to do while on the ark and any problems they had based on the pictures.
Practice sequencing - first, middle, last.
Make a game of how many different animals can be remembered and found in the book.
These illustrations also allow for a fun time of "I Spy" with its many detailed scenes. Incorporating fun will help nurture a love for reading and books.
One of my favorite things the author included which we may not have thought much about was how the animals may have multiplied on the ark. Watch out for all those rabbits!
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
As one of the completely wordless books for preschool, A Ball for Daisy will delight little ones! The bright yet simple illustrations along with the topic of a cute little dog will draw their attention to this book and keep them returning to it again and again.
Even without words, this book is able to bring up discussion about losing things we care about, sharing, forgiveness, friendship and all the emotions that go along with it.
Allow time for the child to look through the book and all the illustrations. Then ask what they think the book is about. Even the youngest of preschoolers are able to at least share it's about a dog and his ball. Be prepared though, they may be able to give you a complete imaginative story!
This is a great book to discuss difficult feelings such as sadness, hurt and anger. Also discuss the joy and fun pointing out even when sad or hurtful times come, joy and happiness can return.
Again, just as with other wordless books for preschool, have children think through sequencing what happened first, next and last.
Have the child "read" their version of the story to you page by page. This inspires them to use both imagination and oral vocabulary.
Tuesday by David Wiesner
This wonderful fantasy wordless book is sure to capture a child's imagination and humor! It opens the doors to "what if?" This is also a fun read especially to open up a lesson and discussion on telling time or the days of the week.
This is a great read to expand critical thinking skills in figuring out not only what is happening during the story line, but also what is foreshadowed to happen next at the end.
After the first read, see how many different things children can tell you that happened in the book.
Ask how the book made the reader feel. Did they think it was fun or scary? Did they feel excited, worried or afraid? Did they want to laugh or feel confused?
How many details can they remember such as what the man was eating, how the frogs entered the house, what kind of pet did the old lady have, etc. Noticing details is an important part of reading comprehension.
Discuss fantasy and reality. Could this happen in real life? Make a list of all the things which were real in the book and could really happen and what things could not.
If they were to use their imagination, what else would they have added to the story? Would they have chosen a different animal?
The Three Pigs by David Wiesner
This is not truly a wordless book per-say, but the words are actually a part of the storybooks within this story or the conversation of the pigs. It is also a fun read to follow Tuesday because of the pigs at the end of that story.
My favorite part is how the illustrations change from story to story within the book. The three pigs leave their own story to visit Hey Diddle, Diddle and then a dragon left to guard a golden rose. This is such a fun book especially if children already know the story of the three little pigs!
Instead of actually reading the words for the story of the three little pigs, allow your child to help tell the story orally in their own words during the first read.
Allow children to list all the various characters which were in the book. This gives a great opportunity to memorize the rhyme "Hey Diddle, Diddle."
At the end as the letters are falling out of the book, have kids locate the letter you say.
Have children tell the story in their own words by prompting - what happened first? What happened next? What happened then, etc. until you ask what happened at the end.
Because of the varied illustrations, you could also discuss different does not mean better. Each type of illustration is unique and special just like people are.
A fun activity after reading this tale is to make paper airplanes like the pigs did.