The Best Wordless Books

by Jimmie

The illustrations take center stage in these creative picture books that provide plenty of opportunity for language development and creative role play.

My Personal Recommendations

For Wordless Picture Books

All of the wordless picture books featured here are ones that I've personally read and "tested" on my own daughter. They all pass the test of being fantastic stories, captured beautifully through illustrations that do not need words.

We enjoy wordless books for all their educational benefits but also because they are plain fun to read.

I've included a brief synopsis of each book as well as any additional thoughts that may help you make the best choices in wordless books.

At the end of this article there is a poll where you can choose which wordless picture book appeals to you the most. So be thinking of which one looks most interesting to you as you read my reviews.

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

A Beautiful Wordless Picture Book

You already know the story. This is the fable of the lion who spares a field mouse, never thinking that the same mouse would soon save his life from the hunter's snare.

Despite the familiar story, this wordless book is a treasure. The illustrations are rich and expressive. There are some tender additions to the traditional tale. For example, the mouse goes home to her nest full of baby mice. Those pages of mother (or father?) mouse talking to the baby mices are great opportunities for creative expression. What did the parent mouse say to her babies?

The Lion & the Mouse
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
$18.00  $2.67

Chalk by Bill Thompson

An Exciting Wordless Picture Book

Three children come upon a bag of chalk in the park and begin to draw on the paved path. Amazingly, their drawings come to life. All is well until one of the children makes a bad choice in his drawing. 

This wordless books a real page turner! There is a scary chase scene where the children use their wits to outsmart the dinosaur that is after them. 

The book ends with the chalk still there, awaiting the next group of children to have chalk adventures.

Marshall Cavendish Children's Books
$15.99  $6.99

You Can't Take a Balloon Into the Metropolitan Museum by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman and Robin Preiss Glasser

A Parallel Universe Wordless Book

The illustrations of this book are highly detailed, giving you lots to pore over visually. In the story, a girl and her grandmother visit the Metropolitan Musueum of Art while the girls balloon goes on a riotous adventure outside. 

The chaos the balloon causes parallels the art that the girl sees in side the museum. It's a lot of fun to find the similarities in the outrageous situations that occur with the balloon and the fine art in the museum.

Having just been the Met a few months ago, my daughter and I recognized several works of art and galleries inside the Met. It was fun to make those connections with this picture book.

Wave by Suzy Lee

An Imaginative Wordless Picture Book

My daughter loves this wordless book! Maybe it's because she loves the ocean or because she has such a keen imagination. 

In this book, the main character goes to the beach with her mother. She explores the sand and quickly discovers the impetuous waves. Their "dance" and playful antics made both me and my daughter laugh out loud. Anyone who has been tossed by waves or tricked fast flowing foam will relate to this book.

Chronicle Books
$15.99  $5.85

Sidewalk Circus by Paul Fleischman and Kevin Hawkes

A Clever Wordless Picture Book

A girl waiting at a city bus stop watches the sidewalk circus that appears before her. But this circus relies heavily on her imagination. Fueled by signs advertising different acts in a coming circus, the girl sees the acts on the busy city street right before her eyes.

I liked this book more than my daughter. I thought it was really clever how the different circus performers were portayed through the urban workers. This book does rely on a certain amount of words -- the captions on the circus posters. 

Sidewalk Circus
$7.99  $2.75

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

A Sweet Story of a Snowman Come to Life

The Snowman is a classic wordless book that is suitable for even the youngest of readers. The storyline is easy to understand and provides opportunity for lots of vocabulary development.

The plot revolves around a boy's snowman which comes to life. They play together in the boy's home as the snowman experiences new things -- ice cubes, a stove, television, lamp. Then the snowman takes the boy on a flight around the world.

After their night flight, he boy falls happily asleep in his own bed.  When he awakens, the snowman has melted.

The Snowman
Random House Books for Young Readers
$17.00  $9.70

More Wordless Goodness

Barbara Lehman's sweet illustrations tell the stories in these wordless books.
The fantastic wordless books by David Wiesner are a wonderful addition to your bedtime reading routine.
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!)

What Book Appeals to You The Most?

If You Had to Pick Just ONE wordless book, which one would it be?
  Display results
No choice is a bad one because each book listed is a winner!
Updated: 10/28/2011, Jimmie
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