“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Wordless and nearly-wordless picture books are an amazing addition to the early childhood classroom. It can be intimidating to have a story with no words sitting in front of you. However, to the students, this is an open invitation to explore the illustrations and make up their own story! These five wordless picture books will become treasured in any early childhood classroom.
Owl Bat Bat Owl by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
In this adorable book, Mama Owl and her babies are napping on a sunny branch when some bats move in “downstairs.” Suspicious glances are traded while the mothers shuffle their babies over, determined to keep their little ones separate. A huge gust of wind is the catalyst that forges a quick friendship.
Extending the Learning: Flip it upside-down for a bat’s eye view of the story! This book also opens the door for discussion about diversity and embracing differences. You can start by discussing the differences between the bats and the owls, and what they have in common.
The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell
This Caldecott Medal-winning book is more than your average ABC’s. Students must rely on picture clues to discover what corresponds with the letter on the page. Don’t worry – there’s a handy key included in the back of the book!
Extending the Learning: Working with your class, create an alternate version of Little Cat’s adventure using different words for each letter of the alphabet!
10 Minutes till Bedtime by Peggy Rathman
Extending the Learning: Discuss with students how they get ready for bed. What other routines can they think of? And of course, this is a wonderful set up for a PJ day!
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
Perhaps Peggy Rathman had a hard time going to bed when she was a child, because here is another winner! The students will “roar” with laughter at the antics of the naughty gorilla and his zoo friends. Mrs. Zookeeper keeps it all under control…well, mostly.
Extending the Learning: Try these variations on games all using the simple song, Closet Key.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
Raymond Briggs captures the magic of winter in this beautifully illustrated book. There are 175 beautiful illustrations in this book, which allows for endless ways to tell the story of a little boy and the snowman he creates in his yard. Suddenly the snowman comes to life! And for those of you who aren’t QUITE ready to make the jump to wordless books, this one does come in two editions, one with a story already written, and one as a wordless picture book.
Extending the Learning: Practice sequencing by having the children tell you the steps to making a snowman. Do you start with the hat? The coal? Or rolling a snowball? Be sure to focus on words such as “first,” “next,” and “last.”
A Few More Favorite Wordless Picture Books:
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