Books Without Words and Why They’re Worth Reading

While perusing through my local book store (Politics & Prose), I noticed their flyer for Picture Book Panel: No Words Needed. This is an event that will host several authors of word-less picture books. You may think this means “baby books”, but it is definitely NOT restricted to that population. In fact, many “word-less” books are complex in their story line.  What’s amazing is how the authors are able to create a story simply with their descriptive pictures.  Why is this relevant to speech and language? For many reasons!

Picture books are a great way to work on expressive language development.  Read a wordless book with your child and take turns describing the events and actions on each page.  This can facilitate vocabulary, sentence structure, and pronouns (to name a few).

Books for expressive language development: Goodnight Gorilla, Carl the Dog, Float, Pool

Wordless books can be used for social pragmatics and emotions. Because you are relying solely on pictures to gain meaning, often times clues can be found in the facial expressions of the characters.  Reading facial cues to gain meaning about a situation is a HUGE skill to address for kids on the autism spectrum or those struggling with peer relationships.  Help your child by pointing out the character’s expression and what it looks like. Ask them WHY that character is looking that way and how might that character be feeling.  As the book progresses, see if he or she notices when the character’s expression changes.

Books for facial expression and emotions: Rain! by Linda Ashman, Pancakes for Breakfast, and Flora and the Flamingo (series)

Finally, books without words can be used to work on sequencing and story narratives. If your child is working on comprehension of sequence words or language organization to tell their own stories, practicing with wordless books is a great stepping stone.  The pictures provide a visual context that can assist with organization and story narrative. Use the book itself to discuss “beginning, middle, and end” by pointing to/opening to the beginning of the book, the middle, and the end.

Books for sequencing and story narrative:  Flora and the Flamingo (series), Pancakes for Breakfast