Strategies for Pre-Reading | The Benefits of Wordless Books


One of my favorite tools to use in speech therapy is a wordless book. They have endless (okay, maybe not completely endless, there is a story in those pictures) possibilities for creating, imagining, predicting, and story telling.

Here are the top 10 reasons why I LOVE wordless books for kids:

1.    It’s reading before reading. These books can empower a young child to be the storyteller instead of having to listen mom or dad read the words. This encourages story telling skills, language and overall comprehension.
2.    It increases vocabulary.  You can use the objects or actions in the books to introduce new words to your child. It’s also a great way to work on synonyms. For example, your child might say, “The dog ran fast” and you could talk about other ways you express what’s happening in the picture (“The dog ran quickly”).
3.    It works on inferencing. Without words, your child will have to rely solely on the pictures to infer what is happening in the story. You can probe further by asking, “How did you know that?”
4.    It works on predicting. You and your child can talk about what you might think will happen next based on the picture you’re looking at; you can also talk about why they made that prediction.
5.    It introduces story structure. Your child will learn about the beginning, middle, and end of the story as he describes each picture. At the end of the book you can go back and identify, then discuss, each part.
6.    It promotes creativity. Your child is not constricted to the words on the page in wordless books. Because there are no words, the pictures on each page often have a lot to say. This encourages your child to go above and beyond with his story telling.
7.    It helps with story retell. I’ve noticed that children who have difficulty retelling stories they’ve read or heard can retell stories that they have helped develop much easier. Wordless books provide a great building block to retelling stories they have read or heard.
8.    It can help with written language. Older children can write their stories down instead of verbally expressing them. This is a great way to work on descriptive language, sequencing, and overall cohesive writing.
9.    It encourages higher level thinking skills. Some of the pictures can be abstract. This opens up questions like, “What if?” and “What would you do?” “What would it be like to___?”
10.    Wordless Books are fun! I love that the story is always changing and evolving each time you “read” it. Children love to create and use their imaginations, and wordless books provide an outlet for that. It’s amazing to see the ideas that children have and they way they process the information. They may have a completely different idea of what’s happening in the picture than you do; and you may realize, that their idea is often more imaginative and original than your own.

Here is a quick list of some of my favorite wordless picture books:

  • Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day
  • The Lion and The Mouse by Pinkney
  • *A Boy, a Dog and a Frog by Mercer Mayer
  • *Frog Goes to Dinner by Mercer Mayer
  • *The Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez
  • *Fox and Hen Together by Beatrice Rodriguez
  • *Jack and the Missing Piece by Pat Schories
  • *Breakfast for Jack by Pat Schories
  • The Snowman by Raymund Briggs
  • Tuesday by David Wiesner

* Indicates a book series

Click here to read more about the stages of reading development.  If you have concerns about your child’s early reading, contact our Blossom Reading Program.