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Suffolk Center for Speech

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The benefits of wordless picture books

I had initially heard of the use of wordless picture books in therapy during my first semester of graduate school. I was skeptical of my professor, as she professed her love for them as therapy tools for her young clients. Aren’t books supposed to have words? How are a bunch of pictures going to elicit language from my younger clients?

The pictures in these books are typically colorful and extravagant, allowing the child to use their imagination. I soon came to realize the benefits of wordless picture books are plentiful and extremely varied. 

Benefits of wordless picture books include:

1. Introducing literacy skills before the child can read.
Just because a child is too young to be reading on their own doesn’t mean the child can’t know the ins and outs of a book.

2. Increasing storytelling skills.
Have the child “read” the book to you. Have the child turn the pages one by one, and tell you what they think is happening in the story based on the pictures. Introduce sequencing vocabulary, such as “first, next, then, and last”.

3. Expanding language
While the child is telling you the story, ask them questions to expand on the story being told — specifically, “wh-“ questions. Who? What? When? Where? Why?

4. Introducing predicting
Wordless picture books can introduce these higher-level cognitive skills without the child needing to read the information on their own. Asking your child questions such as “What do you think is going to happen next?” and following up with “Why do you think that?” can familiarize them with important skills.

Examples of wordless picture books include:

  • Polo and the Dragon, by Regis Faller
  • Shadow, by Suzy Lee
  • Wave, by Suzy Lee
  • A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog, by Mercer Mayer
  • The Lion and the Mouse, by Jerry Pinkney
  • The Typewriter, by Bill Thomson
  • Chalk, by Bill Thomson

-Jessica Eberhart M.S., CF-SLP, TSSLD

Resources:

https://nspt4kids.com/parenting/the-benefits-of-wordless-books-north-shore-pediatric-therapy/

https://www.scholastic.com/parents/family-life/parent-child/how-wordless-picture-books-help-kids-read.html

http://www.readingrockets.org/article/sharing-wordless-picture-books

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