Wordless Wonder: The 10 Benefits of a Wordless Book

Summer Reading Program Week 2 from Barefoot Books

Wordless Wonder: The Many Benefits of a Wordless Book

Last summer Barefoot Books released their very first wordless book, Out of the Blue. This seaside adventure, beautifully illustrated by Allison Jay, has prompted many people to ask, “How do I use a wordless book?” Luckily, we are here to help!  Laurie Mattaliano wrote this post on her blog Footnotes that will let you in on the wonders of a wordless book:

Out of the Blue

A Wordless Book to Connect to Children

The Many Benefits of a Wordless Book

Are you intimidated by a wordless book?  I recently opened my eyes to the genre and have been blown away by the research-based benefits attributed to these little wordless wonders.

Wordless Book Benefits in General

  • understanding the elements of story structure
  • developing visual literacy
  • thinking and writing creatively
  • cultivating language and narrative abilities
  • increasing literacy and vocabulary skills
  • accommodating special needs and learning styles
  • inspiring storytelling
  • developing book-handling behaviors and confidence for emergent readers

Additionally, “wordless books are well suited to contemporary children’s strengths” (Early Childhood Education Journal, Vol. 29, No.3).  Today’s children live in a society dominated by visual images, which are broadcast via television, computers and so forth. Because these books relate a story entirely through the illustrations, they encourage children to apply visual literacy skills, and not only draw inferences from what is pictured but also respond to the quality of the pictures and note details that adults sometimes miss.

Many useful tips can be found in Reading Rockets’ published guide for parents when reading wordless books.  One tip is to ask the child “W” questions like where, who, why, when.

Wordless Book Benefits in the Classroom

The conclusion of a fantastic study-based article from Early Childhood News noted:

Sometimes a small change in classroom practice can put a new focus on an old habit. By replacing the books in their story corner with wordless books, two teachers rediscovered the joy and wonder that books inspire. Both the children and their teachers benefited from the use of wordless picture books. If you haven’t introduced them into your classroom book corner yet, we hope that our account of this experience will motivate you to visit your local library and check them out!

Wordless Book Benefits for Children with Learning Differences

Health News Digest reported that “Books without text can increase literacy vocabulary skills in children with developmental disabilities”. Additionally,

‘We found that when creating a story or just responding to pictures, the parent used many words and complex sentence structures while engaging with their child. That level of engagement wasn’t as present when reading books with text,’ said Gillam. ‘These results fall in line with the generally accepted belief that less structured activities, such as playing with toys or creating things with Play-Doh, elicit more productive language interactions between parent and child. These findings in no way diminish the importance of reading printed books, but incorporating interactions with wordless books is a way to build a more solid literacy foundation in children with developmental disabilities’.

Additionally from the same article and of considerable benefit to all children:

An overview of recent research found parents used many more words and complex sentence structures while engaging with their children over a wordless picture book versus a picture book with text. This level of adult-child dialogue is known to increase literacy and vocabulary skills in developmentally disabled/delayed children.

The benefits cited, and countless more like them, are beyond eye-opening.   I have a newfound and robust appreciation for wordless books and the subtle power they posses. Most clearly, they deserve a place in the hands of children and all of those who share reading with them.

Thank you for sharing, Laurie!

Interested in trying a wordless book yourself? Grab a copy of Out of the Blue today! 

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  1. […] they encourage imagination and provide excellent practice with language skills. Check out how to read a wordless book, it is easier than you […]

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