How do you read a book that has no words?
By looking at the picture, of course!
Children’s book illustrators are experts at telling stories through pictures. Most of the time, picture books for young children are limited to about 1000 words, so obviously many of the details of the story must be “told” in the illustrations. Wordless books (or almost wordless) take the illustrations to a whole new level… they tell the entire story! And, they give children an opportunity to make up the story themselves! They are not just for little folks, either, but can even be appealing to older kids!
A few favorites…
Written by Shutta Crum and illustrated by Patrice Barton
Yes, this (almost) wordless book was “written!” Even though the only word in this book is “Mine,” the author still needed to create a storyline for the illustrator to follow! Mine! is a fun little story about sharing. (Or not.) Toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy seeing what happens when someone yells, “Mine!”
Good Dog, Carl
Written and illustrated by Alexandra Day
Good Dog, Carl was one of our girls’ favorite books. Nana Mel had this and several other “Carl” books (there are sequels!) in her book bin, and the girls read them over and over and over! In this story, Mama is heading out the door, and says “Look after the baby, Carl. I’ll be back shortly.” And Carl, a big gentle Rottweiler, does exactly that. Baby climbs out of his crib onto Carl’s back, and the adventure begins! Of course, none of us would actually leave our little ones in the care of the family dog, but the story sure is fun!
Written and illustrated by David Weisner
Tuesday, by David Weisner, is another fun almost-wordless book. The story was actually inspired by a magazine cover that Weisner did for Cricket Magazine in 1979… Evidently folks were so intrigued by the illustration of frogs floating on lily pads that David Weisner finally wrote a story to go along with it in 1992! The story begins with “Tuesday evening, around eight,” and takes the reader through the night, only occasionally documenting the time. this fun book will appeal to elementary age kids, who will be old enough to see the subtle humor and the hint at the end of the book as to what happens “Next Tuesday, 7:58 P.M.”
Written and illustrated by Shaun Tan
The Arrival is an incredible wordless book written for ages 12 and up. I can personally attest to the fact that even adults are fascinated by it! Shaun Tan’s sepia-colored pencil drawings are intriguing… Their mixture of fantasy and reality give the reader a hint of what it must feel like to immigrate to a culture completely different from your own. The story progresses from the feelings of leaving everything that is familiar, to the experiences of strange new places, and then finally to reuniting with loved ones. I think it would be a great addition to learning about Ellis Island!
As you can see, wordless books are fun for any age!
Do you have a favorite?