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13 Wordless Picture Books to Inspire Your Child

Lauren B. Stevens
July 24, 2015

These wordless picture books are sure to get your child's imagination running and promote an interest in reading.

A picture's worth a thousand words, and wordless picture books are a great way to inspire your child's imagination and work on vocabulary and comprehension. Though these books are great for all kids, wordless picture books can be especially useful for hesitant or easily discouraged readers. By introducing these easily digested tales, kids can see the appeal of getting lost in a story and may be more apt to pick up a regular book for reading in the future. In addition, picture books allow kids to fill in much of the story, which can help them exercise their imagination muscles.

Here are 13 books industry experts recommend:

  1. "Journey" by Aaron Becker
    Sarah Galvin, the owner of The Bookstore Plus, recommends this title. Also a pick by Arlene Lynes, the owner of Read Between the Lynes book store, "Journey," a 2014 Caldecott Honor Book, takes children on an adventure through breathtaking illustrations and eye-popping color. It's a favorite of Lynes' because, "In 'Journey,' I can feel the adventure, the independence and creativity throughout the mood of the book."
  2. "The Lion & the Mouse" by Jerry Pinkney
    Intricately detailed illustrations depict this adaptation of one of Aesop's well-loved fables, set in the plains of Africa. In this wordless picture book, one kind deed leads to another.
  3. "The Boy & the Book" by David Michael Slater
    "The Boy & the Book" is recommended by Deanna Meyerhoff, a national sales manager with Penguin Random House Children's Books and contributor to Random Acts of Reading. "It's a wordless picture book about the joys of reading!" she explains. The story features a library book that a boy loves so much that he almost destroys it.
  4. "The Yellow Balloon" by Charlotte Dematons
    Another wordless picture book full of vividly colored illustrations recommended by Galvin, "The Yellow Balloon" takes children on a round-the-world adventure of discovery. Traveling with the yellow balloon, children traverse the globe, discovering what people did and wore throughout different time periods around the world.
  5. "The Farmer and the Clown" by Marla Frazee
    When a baby clown tumbles off his circus train and into the field of a farmer, an unlikely friendship is formed in this recommendation by Galvin. Throughout the course of the day, the stern farmer develops a warmer disposition (and sense of humor) and the little clown learns about life away from the circus.
  6. "Mr. Wuffles" by David Wiesner
    Galvin's 7-year-old daughter Norah recommends "Mr. Wuffles." Not content to play with typical cat toys, Mr. Wuffles would much rather play with the little spaceship of aliens that has just landed in his home. A Caldecott Honor title, "Mr. Wuffles" teaches children the value of wordless communication through symbols and gestures.
  7. "The Wave" by Suzy Lee
    Headed to the beach? "The Wave" is the perfect summer read for little ones, depicting a little girl's adventurous day at the beach in two tones.
  8. "A Ball for Daisy" by Chris Raschka
    Not just for dog lovers, the Caldecott Medal-winning "A Ball for Daisy" offers a wonderful lesson for children who have suffered the loss of something dear to them.
  9. "Chalk" by Bill Thompson
    Imagination comes to life with the realistically detailed illustrations in "Chalk." Three children are playing in a park on a rainy day when they come across a bag of chalk. When they begin to draw with the chalk, their pictures come to life!
  10. "The Arrival" by Shaun Tan
    Absolutely beautiful illustrations tell this story of immigration without words, following a man and his family as they travel to a new place in search of a better life.
  11. "Mirror" by Jeannie Baker
    Side-by-side illustrations depict the parallel lives of two families, one located in Australia and the other in Africa, through the course of one day.

Lynes also recommends any of David Wiesner's books for young readers. According to Lynes, Wiesner's books are "all about the evoking of emotions, the ability to follow a story all without the use of words."

  1. "Tuesday" by David Wiesner
    A Caldecott Medal winner, "Tuesday" portrays the remarkable events of one day (a Tuesday) through detailed illustrations and fantastical ideas. Flying frogs, anyone?
  2. "Flotsam" by David Wiesner
    This science-based title visually portrays the story of a flotsam gem of a discovery, when a curious little boy comes across a lost underwater camera on the beach. As the boy goes through the photographs, he shares his secret underwater discoveries with curious little readers.

Before becoming a mom, Lauren B. Stevens worked as a sales rep for Random House Children's Books. Lauren loves sharing literary adventures with her son, and still reads great young adult books in her spare time. When she's not reading, Lauren writes about parenting for HuffPost Parents, Scary Mommy, Mamapedia and has essays published in multiple anthologies. You can check out what's new with her on her blog, lo-wren.

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