Why Books Without Words Are Just as Important

When we think of books and early literacy, we naturally focus on one thing first — The Words.

Because early literacy is all about words and print and literature of all kinds, right?

So some parents may be surprised to find wordless picturebooks on our shelves. That’s right; all pictures — not a single word. So what gives? We’re supposed to be promoting early literacy, right? We’re supposed to be molding the reading minds of the future, right? So why would we stock books without words?

Because early literacy isn’t just about reading words on a page.

It’s about promoting oral language, questions and answers, and critical thinking. We don’t want kids to merely read a book — we want them to read it, understand it, and grow from it.

According to the Washington learning Systems Literacy e-newsletter, researchers found that wordless picture books uniquely engage children in story conservation and complex language, more conversation and complex language then they would typically get from a book with words. And not only that, they increase literacy and vocabulary skills in toddlers with developmental disabilities.

Frankly, the wordless picturebook forces your child to imagine what would happen in a structured story using structural knowledge of other stories, conversations, and emotions, and then forces them to put those thoughts into words. It’s a beautiful thing really.

I know. You’re chomping at the bit for some wordless picturebooks. Never fear; we have plenty.




IMG_3837 Lisa Kilian
Library Assistant

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2 Responses to Why Books Without Words Are Just as Important

  1. Carolyn says:

    I completely agree with your passion for wordless picture books. I especially like the fact that they can be enjoyed in any language or in multiple languages. I think they deserve their own shelf in any children’s collection.

  2. Lisa Kilian says:

    Hi Carolyn,

    Thanks for your comments. Having wordless picture books displayed via special collection is a great idea! And when checked out, they can include a bookmark listing little facts on how wordless books can actually help promote literacy.