Why Wordless Books

How many wordless books (also known as picture books) do you have in your classroom library? How do you use them with the children? When asked about the use of wordless books in their preschool classroom, Naomi and Diane replied, “We don’t have very many. I know we have A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog by Mercer Mayer,” and “I never really thought about how we are using them…though we have looked at Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie de Paola on a day when we made pancakes with the children.”

As instructors of an emergent literacy course, we’ve asked many teachers to do an inventory of books available to children in their classrooms. We found that the number of wordless books in their inventory were either limited or altogether missing. As a genre that potentially promotes a wide range of language and literacy skills, we wondered how teachers could use wordless books more effectively. What are the benefits of this under-utilized genre of children’s books in the preschool classroom? Why use them at all?

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