At a Loss for Words

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At a Loss for Words

Noteworthy Wordless Picture Books for Children

Wordless books are a valuable literary tool for toddlers and preschoolers, as well as for reluctant readers, that can help shape early literacy skills and foster children's imaginations. The vivid illustrations found throughout wordless books provide young readers access to dynamic art presentations and highlight the creativity of illustrators as storytellers. Wordless books also give children confidence that they can finish books on their own, understanding the development of a story without having the fear of incorrectly pronouncing a word.  The DC Public Library offers children and families a fine selection of award-winning wordless picture books that will be sure to inspire the love of books and lifelong learning.

Journey by Aaron Becker
A young girl overcomes loneliness by using her red marker and creativity to discover a magical world filled with adventure and intrigue.  Her quest is marked by acts of kindness, courage, and friendship, as she sets to free a bird trapped by an evil emperor.

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
A young camper decides to leave his tent in the middle of the night, in order to explore his natural surroundings with a flashlight.  During his nighttime excursion, he discovers wildlife, such as deer, raccoons, and fish in their habitat, along with various plants and trees.  While exploring the woods, he falls down and loses his flashlight to an unsuspecting group of friends, who help him find his way back home.  Boyd uses a black backdrop outlined with white and gray to portray a forest at night.  This background helps signify the value of the flashlight, which illuminates a bright light to showcase colorful animals and plants bringing the story to life.  This heartwarming story was recognized as a 2015 American Library Association (ALA) Notable Children’s book and will inspire the explorer in us all.

Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole
While doing her chores on a Southern farm during the Civil War, a young girl recognizes that she is not alone when she sees a pair of eyes looking directly at her through cornstalks.   Touched by compassion, she uses her wit and ingenuity to offer support to her new friend, who is trying to escape the outstretched hand of slavery.  Cole uses simple graphite illustrations to convey the bond of peace and humanity offered by the farm girl through her genuine acts of kindness. 

Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson
While walking with her father as he shops at different stores in their neighborhood and talks on his cellphone, a young girl collects small flowers growing out of the cracks of sidewalks.  She shares her flowers as gifts to everyday people, adding value and significance to their day. Lawson's simple black and white illustrations are brought to life through the generosity of the caring daughter, who shares her heart with the world.

Sea of Dreams by Dennis Nolan
A young girl builds a sand castle on the shore of the beach in this fantastical wordless picture book.  During the night a bright light illuminates within the sand castle, and a small family suddenly appears and escapes from the castle.  The family travels on a makeshift boat and returns to their homeland on a nearby island.  Their journey is filled with adventures at sea were they encounter huge waves, exotic fish, seahorses, mermaids, starfish, and other mysterious sea creatures.

The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
Pinkney beautifully illustrates a wordless picture book of the famous Aesop fable.  The humble mouse is able to save the mighty lion from a trap as a sign of gratitude, after the lion showed mercy to the mouse by not eating his prey.  Young readers will be able to see how regardless of their size or stature, the depth of the heart is what matters most. 

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
Daisy the dog loves playing with her red ball, whether in the house, sleeping with the ball, or even playing with her ball while walking down the street with her owner.  After her red ball is destroyed, Daisy has to learn how to cope with feelings of anger, disappointment, and sadness.  Surprisingly, Daisy is given a brand new ball and she learns that her life can go on, even after experiencing loss. 

Where's Walrus? by Stephen Savage
Walrus is on the loose after escaping from the zoo, and the zookeeper can’t seem to find Walrus. Walrus maneuvers throughout the city on a fun-filled adventure, while remaining a secret by wearing different hats.  After finally spotting Walrus, the zookeeper realizes that Walrus has more to offer the public besides sitting idly behind a cage. Savage uses an array of colors to fill the pages, as young readers trek with Walrus all across town, while avoiding the zookeeper.  

Bluebird by Bob Staake
A young boy begins his first day at school without making any news friends, until he befriends a bluebird that follows him home. When a group of peers from his school try to bully the young boy, the bluebird sacrifices his life to protect his new friend.  A contrast of colors, such as sky blue, dark gray, light gray, black, and white are used throughout the story to embolden the significance of the bluebird.  Staake's illustrations highlight the interaction between the young boy and the bluebird, as well as their emotions and feelings for one another.  Young readers will learn positive ways to cope with bullying, as well as dealing with feelings of loneliness and developing healthy friendships.

Chalk by Bill Thomson
This wordless book brings to life the story of three children walking in the rain, who approach a green dinosaur ride at the park. The dinosaur holds a suspicious black bag filled with chalk that intrigues the group.  The children use the chalk from the bag to showcase their imagination and creativity on the pavement, which magically turns the rainy and cloudy day into a bright and beautiful, sunny day.  Thomson uses a creative mix of darkness with light to demonstrate the power of the chalk within the hands of children.  The illustrations will empower young readers to utilize their own artistic genius, in order to transform their communities.

Reserve a copy of one of these titles today at your nearest branch library and spread the word about wordless picture books.