The world we live in today is increasingly crowded with images that we must decode to navigate our daily lives—whether it’s photos shared on social media, emojis texted by our friends, or the ads, notices, and public art on city streets. It’s especially important today for children to learn how to look carefully at and interpret what they see.
What Are Wordless Picture Books?
Wordless books, where the story is told entirely through illustrations, can teach kids how to look closely, notice details, and gather information from visual clues. They also help children learn the structure of storytelling; wordless books teach them how to figure out sequencing and cause-and-effect as well as how to organize a story into parts. With wordless books, children can move from merely describing what is happening to narrating a story. In a classroom, this means that even the struggling reader can experience success with reading a book—there are no “right” words or a correct way to experience and interpret it. Books with no words, or only a few words, can be a great way to engage English learners or be otherwise used in bilingual classrooms.
All good wordless books are about discovery—about what you can see if you look carefully at your surroundings. The best wordless books open up the world around us, sparking imagination as well as creative thinking. Here are two masters of wordless-book making from HMH and some of their books that do just that.
He is one of the great artists of the wordless book and is still working today. His books often have a dream-like quality, combining mystery, fantasy, and humor. His 1991 book Tuesday was the first wordless book to win the Caldecott Medal, and he won it again for the wordless Flotsam in 2006. (His third Caldecott was for a book with words, The Three Pigs, in 2001.)