Best Wordless Book Authors: Barbara Lehman

by Jimmie

Barbara Lehman's sweet illustrations tell the stories in these wordless books.

Lehman's mastery of illustration is evident as she tells complete stories with only her drawings and paintings in these wordless books. 

All of Barbara Lehman's illustrations have the same quaint, vintage look. It would be easy for even a very small child to group Lehman's books together as being written by the same author. She uses watercolors plus gouache and ink drawings to achieve this pleasant style.

The faces in Lehman's books are plain -- small dots for eyes and noses. But she is able to capture a broad range of emotions even through such simplistic faces.

I really like Lehman's old fashioned style. It has an innocent and happy feeling even when she portrays city street scenes. The childlike curiosity that she injects into each book keeps me turning the pages. Each book offers a land of adventure or fantasy, a safe escape for young readers.

I feel at home in her illlustrations, and each one makes me want to enter into the world of the book where colors are vivid and faces are so open.

The Artist Drawing the Artist, Drawing the Artist

Self Portrait of Barbara Lehman
Self Portrait of Barbara Lehman

Telling a Story Through Illustrations

You're never too old for a good wordless book! In fact, if a book is a living book, it appeals to all ages as it develops language and literacy skills.

Barbara Lehman has written (or should I say illustrated) five imaginative wordless books. Each qualifies as a living book: 

  1. The Secret Box
  2. Trainstop   
  3. Rainstorm  
  4. Museum Trip  
  5. The Red Book 

Wordless Books by Barbara Lehman

Wordless Books by Barbara Lehman
Wordless Books by Barbara Lehman
Barbara Lehman
Barbara Lehman
The Red Book (Caldecott Honor Book)
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
$16.99  $7.71

The Red Book

This book is about a book -- a red book that provides the reader a window into a tropical climate where a special friend awaits.

I love the escapist nature of this title. Books truly are a way to escape the here and now and enter another world. This wordless book gets the message across to even the youngest children.

Museum Trip
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
$16.99  $7.56

Museum Trip

My Daughter's Favorite Barbara Lehman Book

In this fantastic story, a boy enters the art he sees on an art museum field trip with his school group. 

It was my daughter's favorite Barbara Lehman book. She loves museums and art, so it's no wonder that she likes imagining entering a work of art.

Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
$17.99  $8.16


My Favorite Barbara Lehman Book

This wordless book is my personal favorite from Barbara Lehman and serves as a thematic parallel to The Red Book.

In it, a lonely boy plays indoors on a dreary day. But he finds a secret tunnel that takes him to a sunny land full of children who become his good friends. It's a "feel-good" book that ends with a hopeful twist, making you realize that the happiness will go on and on for these characters.


Two More Barbara Lehman Titles

The Secret Box (Lehman, Barbara)
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
$16.99  $2.58
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
$16.99  $3.39

The Secret Box & Trainstop

The Secret Box

In The Secret Box, children from three different eras are connected with the contents of a secret box that shows them things in their own city which they had always missed. This wordless book contains a lot of visual detail and is better suited to elementary aged children rather than preschoolers.


The main character of Trainstop is a girl who is taking a trip. But, in perfect Lehman style, this trip is not ordinary. The girl enters a magical land where she acts the part of hero. Later her help is rewarded through a special gift that will always remind her of her special train trip.

Have You Ever Read a Barbara Lehman Wordless Book?

More About Wordless Books

They may have no printed words, but wordless picture books are great tools for language development and creativity in young children. (They are also fun for adults who read them!)
Updated: 02/27/2012, Jimmie
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


mivvy on 07/21/2011

I have heard about wordless books, but I never heard of Barbara Lehman, is she American?

WordCustard on 07/20/2011

These books are new to me but they look so enchanting that I'm itching to get my hands on one!

ohcaroline on 07/20/2011

I've never heard of wordless books; but I think they would be great for developing creativity.

Holistic_Health on 07/19/2011

Some of the best stories are told without worlds. Thank you!

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