5 tips for sharing wordless picture books

'Wave' by Suzy Lee
Category: Parents

When we think of reading a book, most of us think of reading the actual words on the page.  But, a picture is worth a thousand words and in the case of a wordless picture book, maybe even more. Although it may not seem like it, wordless picture books have a big role to play in helping children develop their language and literacy skills. 

Researchers at the University of Waterloo have found that wordless picture books helped to extend toddlers' language. Although the study compared wordless picture books to vocabulary books where objects are named, the study found that the wordless picture books encouraged the mothers in the study to use more complex language with their toddlers.


5 tips for sharing wordless picture books


1. Describe what you see

Describing the pictures encourages us to use language that is different from how we normally speak. This will expose children to a rich variety of language.

2. Point things out

Take your time and point things out in the pictures. Pointing and labelling helps children to learn the meaning of new words. This will also help draw their attention to details in the illustrations.

3.  Go beyond the pictures

Ask the children open ended questions about what might be happening and why. Be sure to give children plenty of time to think about their responses. When children reply, repeat what they say and add more information. For example, if a child points out a cat, describe the cat – "that’s right, there is a black cat". 

4. Use story language

When you’re reading the story, try using simple words and phrases like ‘next' and 'then’. These linking words help children catch the idea of the flow of a story and how to tell a story in order.

5. Play with the story

You don’t always have to tell the story in the same way. If there is more than one character in the book, tell the story from different perspectives. You can make up a different story every time.

Wordless picture books are a great way to encourage young and reluctant readers. They’ll love the chance to be involved in the reading and telling of the story. A picture really is worth a thousand words!

For a dozen recommendations of great wordless picture books, check out our book list, 12 Wordless Picture Books for 0-2s