I Have No Words, and So Much to Talk About!

September 17, 2018 | Pat

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Recently, the CBC posted an article about the importance of talking with your children as a means of boosting their early literacy skills and brain development. The article emphasizes the distinction between simply hearing words and conversing. Wordless books sprang to my mind immediately. It’s impossible to open a wordless book with a child and not start talking about what each of you see. Moreover, the non-linear nature of individual pictures means the reader is free to process the story in terms of what catches their eye with the turn of each page, leading to more personal interpretation. Best of all, kids will use their own words in describing what they see.

Don’t just take it from me. Here are ten reasons from a speech therapist to try wordless books and here are some tips from Reading Rockets about how to share. What you can take from me are some of my favourite wordless books from this year.


Aquarium by Cynthia Alonso

A dreamy girl with a passion for fish rescues one that has jumped onto a dock and takes it home. Realizing the water bottle her fish is contained in is not the best environment, she goes to great lengths to expand her new pet’s world. There is ample STEM and maker content to talk about involving siphons and the properties of water.

Ages 3-7


The fish and the cat
The Fish and the Cat by Marianne Dubuc 

While we are on the subject of fish, this one has to go to extreme lengths to avoid an extremely determined cat. Overall this is a humorous story but there is a certain nightmarish quality to the cat’s unrelenting pursuit and spooky blank gaze. Very suspenseful! Canadian author.

Ages 2+

This is also available as an eBook


I got it
I Got It! by David Wiesner

A boy in the outfield seeking to prove his mettle by catching a fly ball finds himself in “competition” with his own teammates. Beautifully illustrated in Wiesner’s photorealistic surrealism, a simple series of moments gets stretched and embellished into an epic tale.

Ages 4 – 7


Red by Jed Alexander

A bizarre variation on the classic story of Little Red Riding Hood, it would be best not to give too much more away in this short but sweet story except to say that a skunk, some rabbits, two foxes a family of squirrels and a sparrow all participate.

Ages 4 – 8


Small things
Small Things by Mel Tregonning

A boy’s confidence is gradually but continuously undermined by difficulties relating to his peers and struggles with his schoolwork. His isolation only deepens as his problems literally seem to eat away at him. The message of this book is ultimately hopeful and emphasizes the importance of reaching out to those in need.

Ages 8 and up


Vacation by Blexbolex

A girl must share her vacation with a most unwelcome guest. The story is rendered in a vividly retro style combining hand drawn and printed imagery with superimposed clocks or other images which help to convey the passage of time and space. Moving effortlessly between dreaming and waking states makes this is one of the longer and more sophisticated titles on the list, but it is nevertheless captivating. 

Ages 8 and up


Wallpaper by Thao Lam

An anxious girl moving into a new house in a new neighbourhood hides when she first notices some local kids in a treehouse through the window of her new home. Up in the attic, she notices how a tear in the wallpaper opens onto a new world where she encounters a large three eyed monster with a big toothy grin. Canadian author.

Ages 4-7


If you want to explore more wordless books, try a subject search using advanced settings for the term “stories without words” or, since I have made a link to the search results, you can view them all here.

I am far from the only one who is crazy about wordless books. Here are three earlier entries from colleagues who also posted on this blog.

Jan 2016

Dec 2015

Oct 2015