Stories Without Words

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library - Central Library

Stories Without Words

Exploring Wordless Picture Books

FlotsamI adore picture books filled with wonderful, strange, and exciting new words.  However, the wordless picture book can be just as delightful.  Stories without words are perfect for children of all ages; they encourage imaginative storytelling and can be used to prompt creative writing with older readers, but also serve to help young children develop an understanding of story structure, build vocabulary, and teach basic visual literacy skills.  To an adult, wordless picture books may at first seem overly simplistic, but they are actually great fun for everyone -- adults included!

Let's look at a few of my favorite stories without words.  Each of these six stories is linked to another on the list, some by a similar setting or character, others because of the feelings they evoke or the skills they encourage:

Sea of Dreams
by Dennis Nolan and Flotsam by David Wiesner involve adventures on the seashore.  Each has a different narrative, but both stories end on a note of possibility. The final page may have turned, but the story might not be over quite yet -- so, keep an eye out for sandcastles and old cameras next time you visit the beach!
Bill Thomson’s Chalk and Suzy Lee’s Shadow look quite different: Chalk’s pages are filled with colorful, photorealistic art so painstakingly detailed that it looks almost computer-generated, while Suzy Lee has created a world of light and shadow in charcoal and pencil drawings. Both stories demonstrate the magic of imagination, and encourage the same level of creative thinking in their readers.   
Finally, we have two stories that feature bears in unexpected places: The Tree House by Marije Tolman, and Wonder Bear by Tao Nyeu. The Tree House is visually captivating, a truly beautiful book. In fact, it won the Bologna Ragazzi Award for the most beautiful picture book in the world in 2010. The simple design and stunning colors make this something you’ll return to again and again. In Wonder Bear, we meet a magical bear who takes two children on a fantastical journey — you’ll go flying with dolphins and swimming with monkeys, even visiting the moon and stars before returning home.

These are just a few of the library’s many marvelous wordless picture books you can explore with (or without) your child.  Why not stop by and check one out today?