I love using wordless books to teach storytelling. These 10 wordless books that are my favorite. Before students can be asked to write a story, they must first be able to tell a story.
Has this happened to you? You are so excited to start writers workshop early in the year. You dismiss your students to start to write their stories, only to hear a chorus of “I’m DONE!” 2.2 minutes later. Or later in the year, you read a student’s story about going to the park and it reads, “I went on the slides. I went on the swings. I played ball. I went home.” Sigh! Yes, we work on stamina and telling more in writer’s workshop, but “reading” wordless books is a great way to strengthen storytelling. Because if they can’t tell a story, they won’t be able to write a story.
I have gathered 10 wordless books that are fantastic for storytelling.
First, I don’t think there is a “right way” to “read” a wordless picture book, but this is how I do it.
- Take a picture walk: Notice the details… Discuss how the illustrations help to tell the reader what is happening in the story. Because there is an absence of text, the “writer” has to be certain that they make their meaning clear with the illustrations. Isn’t this exactly what we want our emergent kindergarten writers to do?
- Name the pages: Take time to name what is happening on each page. This is sort of like the planning we do when we plan to write a story.
- Read it like a story: Now when you read it the third time, add book language. EXAMPLE: Once, there was a dog and his name was Carl.
Make a collection
Place a collection of wordless books in a book bin. Revisit them often. Allow students to have free access to them (they could even be a station activity). Here is a list of some of my favorites.
Wordless Book #1 A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka is an adorable book. Daisy is a dog who loves to her red ball. Then one day, she goes to the park and her ball gets destroyed by another dog. The illustrations are precious!
Wordless Book #2 Chalk by Bill Thompson
Chalk by Bill Thompson is a book about three children and the magical things that happen when they find sidewalk chalk.
Wordless Book #3 Good Dog Carl by Alexandra Day
Good Dog Carl by Alexandra Day is a classic! Let’s pretend that the mom did not leave the baby alone with the dog so she could go shopping! BUT Carl is a pretty awesome babysitter!
Wordless Book #4 The Red Book by Barbara Lehman
The Red Book by Barbara Lehman is a fantasy book that starts when I child finds a book. Each page builds upon the previous page and they zoom in and zoom out.
You can see how each these pages BEG you to look closer!
Wordless Book #5 Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
Flashlight by Lizi Boyd is the adventures of a boy who uses his flashlight to discover things in the dark.
I love how the majority of the illustrations are in black and white, yet where the stream of light shines you see color. This is a FANTASTIC illustrative study book!
Wordless Book #6 Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
Goodnight Gorilla is a CLASSIC!
Love that sneaky gorilla!
Wordless Book #7 Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie DePaola
Pancakes for Breakfast tells the tale of a woman who wants to make pancakes but she needs to gather the ingredients.
Talk about a picture telling the story. [Sidenote… now I want pancakes.]
Wordless Book #8 The Secret Box by Barbara Lehman
The Secret Box is another book by Barbara Lehman and its about time travel! My students LOVED this book!
Wordless Book #9 The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
The Lion and the Mouse is stunning! I could talk about the illustrations ALL. DAY! It is easy to see why this is a
Wordless Book #10 Journey by Aaron Becker
Journey by Aaron Becker is the story of a girl who walks through her closet door and enters into a magical place.
The colors are spectacular and a fantastic opportunity to work on storytelling.
So… there are my 10 wordless book suggestions. I would love to add to my personal list. What are your favorite books?