Wordless picture books give non-readers and beginning readers reading practice and build reading skills.
Wordless Picture Books
Let’s say you’re me, a teacher trainer and you’re doing a demo lesson on beginning, middle and end in an urban classroom. And, you decide to read a wordless picture book and stop before the ending so the kids can figure out ending . . . and write their own. Then you get a big cultural lesson . . . more below . . .
Strategies Used in Wordless Picture Books
Kids read the story as they see it unfold in the illustrations. Which, in books with words, is called using picture clues — an essential reading strategy.
Just like I did with my lesson, wordless picture books to develop your child’s sequencing skills, in particular beginning, middle, and ending.
Also, as your child “reads” you the story, stop and say what YOU predict will happen next. Do this often. The next book you read, have your child stop and predict what they think will happen next in the story. After hearing you make predictions, this will become easier for them to do and help them learn sequencing.
Wordless Picture Books You’ll Enjoy
- Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie De Paola
- Changes, Changes by Pat Hutchins
- 1,2,3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle
- A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog by Mercer Mayer
- Sidewalk Circus by Paul Fleichman
- Have you Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri
- Picnic by Emily Arnold McCully
- Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
This is not a comprehensive list, just a few of my favorites. View more wordless picture books on this list updated November 2011.
And, now back to that fond memory of teaching ending . . .
To introduce the concept of endings, I read wordless picture book Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie De Paola to a kindergarten class. In the story, a woman gets together the ingredients to make pancakes. But, she doesn’t have any syrup so she leaves to the store. When she returns, the house is a disaster, the ingredients are gone and the dog and cat look guilty.
I stopped reading.
We talked about why it couldn’t be the end and discussed several different endings — make more pancakes, eat cereal instead, go out to a restaurant.
I asked the children to decide what the ending would be and draw it, never reading De Paola’s actual ending.
This classroom, in which I was a visiting literacy trainer, was very culturally diverse. As I walked around, I asked the students about their pictures and what happened in their endings. Most of the children used one of my examples but one child had a particularly unique ending for this story.
“What is your ending?” I asked this child.
He looked up at me earnestly, so proud of his drawing and the letters he’d written below.
“She eats the dog,” he replied proudly, holding up his crayon drawing.
“Um, yes, that sure is an ending,” I stammered and prayed he wouldn’t share.
I never found out what the teacher did but I sure hope she started working on cultural appreciation. I certainly will never again read Pancakes for Breakfast without thinking of this alternate ending.
So go forth and read wordless picture books!!
Download my "Can't Put 'Em Down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.
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