Raising Readers Through Wordless Picture Books

My preschooler has reached an interesting stage. She’s been working through Reading Eggs and can read most of the books in set 1 of the Bob Books, but it’s still so new that the effort tires her out quickly. I’m always watching closely to make sure I’m not pushing her and her enthusiasm toward books stays high.

When I noticed C reading Good Dog, Carl to her stuffed animals one afternoon, I realized how powerful wordless picture books could be. What a great way to spark the imagination, foster a love for reading, and give children an “I can do it all by myself” feeling!

Since Good Dog, Carl is the only wordless picture book we own, I headed over to the library to find others. Here are the titles C loved best; we now own all of the books on this list.

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Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day
A rottweiler is charged with watching over a toddler while his mother leaves the house for a while. The result is a good bit of fun, plenty of mess, and a quick cleanup. You might question the responsibility of the mother in this story, but you have to be impressed with Carl’s babysitting expertise.

Flotsam by David Wiesner
This is such a cool variation on finding a message in a bottle washed ashore. A camera, a microscope, a child’s imagination… Who knows what you’ll find and what you’ll become a part of? Very unique story, and its illustrations may have the slightest hint of steampunk.

Leaf by Stephen Michael King
What a funny, sweet story. The little boy in this book avoids having his hair cut for so long, a seed begins to grow after it falls on his head. This is a book about growth…and it made me cry. Out of all the books we checked out on this library trip, C read Leaf most often, by far.

Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola
Making pancakes for breakfast is an adventure when you have to gather the ingredients yourself, gathering eggs from the chickens and milk from the cows. This story also addresses how to handle mishaps along one’s way. It has all the wit and charm you’d expect from a dePaola book.

Wave by Suzy Lee
A little girl experiences playtime on the beach, right at the edge of the ocean. This is such a simple, fun, happy book. Illustrated in a minimal style, exactly as its cover indicates.

Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole
Here’s a title on the serious side, with historical fiction making a powerful impact through pictures; no words necessary. A young girl finds a runaway slave hiding in her family’s barn, and has to decide what to do next. The darkness of the charcoal and pencil drawings set the tone for this story.



I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to peek in after bedtime and find that she’s fallen asleep with a book.