Why Should I Read Wordless Picturebooks?

When people think of fantasy books for children, they often think of books such as Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan. These classics are all wonderful books, but I believe that there are other fantasy books that we can start sharing with children at a younger age. Picturebooks have started to offer some incredible pieces of fantasy recently. Why should you read fantasy to children? What can they possibly be learning? Fantasy often works as a metaphor for bigger situations and ideas that a child might be struggling with. It also helps to develop healthy coping skills for bigger emotions.

A lot of early childhood fantasy comes in the form of wordless picturebooks. Wordless picturebooks have a bad reputation because there are no words in them and, as a result, adults don’t know how to read them and often don’t understand the value of them. Well, I am here to explain with a lot of enthusiasm why they are so valuable and why the library I run is filled with them.

In order to read a wordless picturebook, your job as the adult is to simply ask questions. You get to flip the page and ask what they think is happening? Or if they notice anything different on a particular page? It is a completely different kind of reading in the sense that children’s brain activity is literally different because they are trying to problem solve in a whole new way. Hearing words and saying words uses a whole different side of a child’s brain. So while there is a benefit to hearing a story, children get to exercise a whole new brain muscle when they are discussing a story and their theories behind what is happening. Also, allow them to take as much time as they would like looking at each page. Wordless picturebooks often have very complex drawings that are meant to engage the reader into really studying the details in the drawings.

Some of my favorites are:

Pool by Jihyeon Lee

In this book, two children jump into a pool and are surprised by what they find in it.

Flotsam by David Weisner

A young boy finds an underwater camera has the film developed and is surprised by what he finds.

Journey by Aaron Becker

A girl draws a magic door and travels through to find a magical world full of adventures.

Tuesday by David Weisner

This story is about a Tuesday where Frogs get to go on a flying adventure and travel around the town.

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