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Our Favorite Wordless Picture Books

Sharing wordless books is a terrific way to build important literacy skills, including listening skills, vocabulary, comprehension and an increased awareness of how stories are structured. And children love them — they can really pore over the pictures and create their own story in their own words. Wordless books can also be used in ELL classrooms and with struggling readers. Explore these books with the young kids you know — and get ready for some creative storytelling!

Quotable Quotes: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

10 Minutes Till Bedtime

By: Peggy Rathmann
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

At One Hoppin' Place, the countdown to bedtime is about to begin when a family of hamsters — a mother and father with nine kids and a baby all wearing numbered striped jerseys — arrives at the front door.

A Ball for Daisy

By: Chris Raschka
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

How a small white dog with black ears loses his orange ball to another hound but finds friendship instead comes to life through the author/illustrator's signature illustrations. (2012 Caldecott Medal Winner)

A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog

By: Mercer Mayer
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

This wordless book tells the story of a boy and his dog trying to catch a frog. As they head home empty-handed, they are surprised to find that the frog followed them home!

Anno's Journey

By: Mitsumaso Anno
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The story follows Anno as he rides through the streets and countryside of Northern Europe. This wordless picture book tells the stories of each hamlet, farmyard, circus, and town square in visually rich, and often surprising detail. The author introduces geography and science by focusing on children and adults at work and play, as well as on art, architecture, composers, and painters, as he conducts an imaginary tour of England

Beaver Is Lost

By: Elisha Cooper
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A beaver's adventure begins on a log that floats away from his home and into the city. Before finding his way back, the beaver has many plausible adventures. The action is depicted in well-placed, realistic illustrations in a nearly wordless book.

Chalk

By: Bill Thomson
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Join three children who find a magical piece of chalk that begins an exciting series of events to figure out "what next." This might be fun to use together with Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Flashlight

By: Lizi Boyd
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Inside a tent it's cozy. But what is going on outside? Is it dark? Is it scary? Not if you have your trusty flashlight! Told solely through images and using a spare yet dramatic palette, the author has crafted a masterful exploration of night, nature, and art. Both lyrical and humorous, this visual poem — like the flashlight beam itself — reveals that there is magic in the darkness.

Flora and the Penguin

By: Molly Idle
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Flora dances on a thick sheet of ice with a penguin companion who appears from a hole in the ice. Humor and movement are enhanced by the gentle depiction of fluid girl and bird body language, and through the unique perspectives shown. Glued-in flaps and fold-outs add another dimension and a bit of surprise.

Flotsam

By: David Wiesner
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam — anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there's no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share … and to keep. (2007 Caldecott Medal Winner)

Fossil

By: Bill Thomson
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When a boy and his dog go for a hike, the boy trips on a fossil, and it comes to life, revealing an ancient plant. The boy is so intrigued that he breaks two more fossils that come to life — a dragonfly and a pteranodon. When these prehistoric creatures collide with present reality, the boy must figure out a way to make things go back to normal. Visually told through art, this wordless story will surely spark imagination and creativity.

Good Dog Carl

By: Alexandra Day
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A lovable Rottweiler named Carl has everthing under control while Mom steps out on an errand. Or does he?

Good Night, Gorilla

By: Peggy Rathmann
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

When is a gorilla like Curious George? When he (and a parade of animals) follow the zookeeper home at bedtime — and snuggles in with the zookeeper's wife with very fast and funny results.

Hank Finds an Egg

By: Rebecca Dudley
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

While walking through the forest, Hank finds an egg on the forest floor. After spotting its nest high up in a tree, he uses his ingenuity to help get the egg home safe and sound, and is joyfully rewarded with newfound friends. Hank's endearing and genuine kindness will inspire readers young and old to believe in themselves and in the goodness of others.

Have You Seen My Duckling?

By: Nancy Tafuri
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Mother duck needs help to find her mischievous missing duckling in this Caldecott Honor Book. She asks the other pond animals for help (though the missing one is never lost, only cleverly concealed in each picture).

Inside Outside

By: Lizi Boyd
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

There are things to do indoors and outside. But the inside goes outside and the reverse with cutouts on pages in this attractive wordless book. Simple lines and flat colors are appealing on brown paper, and encourage careful — and multiple — examinations.

Journey

By: Aaron Becker
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. This wordless picture book is about self-determination — and unexpected friendship.

Mirror

By: Jeannie Baker
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Two stories of two boys on different continents are told almost wordlessly; their tales are both dissimilar and similar, and unknowingly intersect. One boy and his family live in Australia, the other in Morocco (North Africa). Each story is told in textured collage illustrations presented literally side by side.

Mr. Wuffles!

By: David Wiesner
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A handsome feline named Mr. Wuffles is quite fussy about his toys. But he certainly enjoys a small roundish object he comes across unexpectedly. Surprises abound when readers see what that object holds and how — and from whom — the aliens contained in it find help. The three-time Caldecott medalist presents another fresh, nearly wordless tale.

Museum Trip

By: Barbara Lehman
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When a boy in a red sweatshirt lags behind his classmates on a field trip to an art museum, he discovers a group of maze pictures. Amazingly, he finds himself small enough to go into the labyrinths — and out again with a medal. Was his adventure real or imagined? Once reunited with his class, he still has his medal, so who's to say? Crisp images tell the entire story without words.

Noah's Ark

By: Peter Spier
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

The biblical rainy-day tale comes to life through delicate, detail-packed illustrations in this wordless picture book.

Once Upon a Banana

By: Jennifer Armstrong
Illustrated by: David Small
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When a small monkey spies a banana, he leaves the juggler and starts a chain of events that create chaos and laughs for the reader. Careful readers will note that the signs, which rhyme when read in sequence, add to the humor of this nearly wordless adventure and bring the story full circle.

Pancakes for Breakfast

By: Tomie de Paola
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

On a cold morning, a little old lady decides to make pancakes for breakfast, but has a hard time finding all of the ingredients. This wordless picture book tells a story of determination and humor, ideal for young readers who can narrate the story as they go.

Rain

By: Peter Spier
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

With wordless joy a brother and sister turn a raining day into an excuse for adventure through the neighborhood.

Rainstorm

By: Barbara Lehman
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Become the storyteller when examining the inventive illustrations that start with a boy who looks out the window on a rainy day. He finds a mysterious key, which leads to an imaginative adventure with other children on a sunny beach. Could it be real? Readers add the story that accompanies this lively book without words.

Red Sled

By: Lita Judge
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

In this almost wordless picture book, a host of woodland creatures take a child's sled for a nighttime joy ride. Their whimsical ride is gorgeously depicted in bold watercolor, complemented by humorous expressions and pitch-perfect sound effects.

Sector 7

By: David Wiesner
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Wondrous things happen in the skies above Manhattan in this wordless book that explores what happens when we unlock our imagination.

The Lion and the Mouse

By: Jerry Pinkney
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The well-known fable about how the smallest creature — a mouse — saves the majestic lion is a tale of kindness returned. Here it is effectively recast as a wordless story in a new setting. Stunning illustrations are expressive and emotive, evoking Africa's Serengeti while retaining the tale's power. (2010 Caldecott Medal Winner)

The Red Book

By: Barbara Lehman
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A girl finds a book with a red cover on a winter day that transports her to a sunny beach. The idea of getting lost in a book (figuratively and magically) is presented wordlessly; only illustrations are used. The story can be told or written any number of ways according to the writer's interpretation of the story.

The Secret Box

By: Barbara Lehman
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

This wordless time-travel fantasy takes readers on a trip to a world of secret messages left in secret boxes hidden in secret places. The story begins as three boys discover a box in the top floor of their urban boarding school that holds decades-old sepia photographs of a schoolboy, a postcard, and a map leading to a location on the coast.

The Snowman

By: Raymond Briggs
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

In this charming tale, a little boy makes friends with a snowman. He wakes up on a snowy day, tells his mother he's going outside, then begins a flurry of snowman-building. That night, he can't sleep, so he opens the front door and lo! the snowman has come to life.

Time Flies

By: Eric Rohmann
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When a bird flies into an exhibit of dinosaurs, the museum walls and the bones begin to change to prehistoric times. The amazing fantasy comes full circle to a satisfying conclusion.

Tuesday

By: David Wiesner
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Slowly and quietly on this particular Tuesday, a few fat frogs begin hovering over a swamp, riding lily pads like magic carpets. Gradually, the flying fleet grows in momentum and number, sailing over the countryside and into an unsuspecting town.

Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad

By: Henry Cole
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Readers are encouraged to tell the story of a brave farm girl who provides food to someone who has escaped in this sophisticated, expressive, wordless book. Inspired by family stories, the author allows adults to fill in the historical detail while children recognize the story's power.

Wave

By: Suzy Lee
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

No words are needed to share a child's seaside adventure as she plays with the waves, is knocked down by one, and then discovers the sea's gifts brought to shore by the wave. Softly lined wash in a limited color palette evoke a summer afternoon on the beach.

Where's Walrus?

By: Stephen Savage
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A sly walrus evades the zookeeper, all the while hiding in plain sight: at a lunch counter, in a window display, and many equally obvious (and silly) places. After taking a swimming prize, the walrus returns to the zoo. Flat forms augment the understated comedy of this wordless tale.

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March 23, 2017

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