Wordless books for storytelling!
I love using wordless books to teach storytelling. Here are just a few of my favorite wordless picture books you can use with your young readers. Before students can be asked to write a story, they must first be able to tell a story so having great wordless picture books are essential!
What are wordless picture books good for?
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 students can’t tell a story, they won’t be able to write a story.
How do you teach with wordless picture books?
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: The first time you look at the book, 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. So ask students to pay close attention to the work of the illustrator. 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.
- Invite students to use their own words. The visual information on the page will support the language skills and oral language development of second language learners.
Make a wordless book 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). You wish to periodically add books in the bin to keep them fresh. You can find many of these are your local library or school library. Here are a few wordless book suggestions.
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 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 #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.
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 #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 #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 Caldecott honors winner! This is a familiar story of a ferocious lion and mouse and how they became unlikely friends.
Wordless Book #10 Hike by Pete Oswald
Hike by Pete Oswald is the story of a young boy and his father who go on a hike. This book is full of details that will surely spark a conversation.
It would also make a great book to add to your Earth Day book collection.0
Wordless Book #11 Journey by Aaron Becker
Journey by Aaron Becker is the story of a young 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.
Wordless Book #13 Fly by Mark Teague
I have always been a fan of Mark Teague’s illustrations and Fly! is a wonderful wordless story to add to your collection!
Talk about a mini lesson on showing not telling! Perfect!
Wordless Book #14 Shine by Dagney Griffin
Shine by Dagney Griffin is a sweet book about a young girl who spreads love in the city. As she shares her love with the people she encounters, the city slowly transforms until everything around her is glowing with vibrant color.
Wordless Book #16 I Got It! by David Wiesner
I Got It! is another great book by David Wiesner! This book slows down the moment after the ball has been hit and what happens as the outfields is trying to catch the ball.
Wordless Book #17 I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët
I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët is a book about kindness! I love this book because not only do you have a great opportunity to practice storytelling, the message of including others is as important as ever.
Wordless Book #18 Dude by Aaron Reynolds
Dude by Aaron Reynolds is a master’s class in illustrative studies. Each page of this near wordless book is a mini lesson in waiting!
Your kindergarten and first grade students will LOVE this book!
Wordless Book #20 One Afternoon by Hsin-Yu Sun
One Afternoon by Hsin-Yu Sun is a book that answers the question… What do our pets do when we are not with them…LOL
This wordless book tells two stories at the same time. On the top, a boy leaves his home to go about his daily tasks and obligations. On the bottom, his dog waits at home having his own set of adventures!
Wordless Book #21 Deep in the Forest by Brinton Turkle
Deep in the Forest by Brinton Turkle is an older book… like back when I was young…old! old!
I love this wordless version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, except, this is turned upside down. In this version, the bear breaks in to the house.
There you have it. 21 Wordless books that are great for storytelling or writers workshop minilessons!
Learn More About Writing
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You can learn more about writer’s workshop by reading these articles.
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