Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Wordless Picture Books in Read Aloud

Professional Crocodile
by Giovanna Zoboli
illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio 
Chronicle Books, 2017

A crocodile gets ready for work and travels to the zoo, where he is (what else?) a professional crocodile.

Owl Bat Bat Owl
by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
Candlewick Press, 2017

The adults can't get past the differences, but the kids can. When the lives of their children are endangered, the adults are finally united.

Little Fox in the Forest
by Stephanie Graegin
Schwartz & Wade, 2017

A little girl loses her beloved stuffed animal, gets it back again, then gives it away.

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These are just three of the wordless picture books I've shared for #classroombookaday this year. But how do I read aloud a book without words?

  1. Gather the students close. Let them know that it's a wordless book and that they'll have to pay close attention to the illustrations in order to understand the story.
  2. Study the cover, both front and back. 
  3. Look under the dust jacket to see if the book cover is the same or different.
  4. Study the end papers.
  5. Begin the book with the very first page turn. The story in some picture books begins before the title page!
  6. After showing a spread of the story to all of your audience (take your time moving the book so they have time to really look at the illustrations), ask, "Who would like to narrate this spread?"

That's it -- no big secret or earth-shattering instructional move. I let the students tell the story! The fascinating thing is that often the students who don't participate in a picture book discussion are the first to raise their hand to narrate, and with a keen eye for details that are vital to the story. There is no worksheet, no calling on someone who doesn't have their hand raised to try to catch them not paying attention (because with a wordless book, 99% of them are, and part of the fun of it is you can watch them looking because your head is not turned away from them reading the words!!), no quick check or written retelling. Try it! You'll have so much fun (both you and your students) that you'll make space in #classroombookaday not just for nonfiction picture books, but for wordless picture books, too!


  1. OK, I am so going to try the "Who would like to narrate this spread?" Thanks for the great idea!

  2. I like to call them quiet books and we read it quietly one time with just our eyes before we tell the story together.
    Also,for those instances where illustrations before title page are important, I say "the story starts before the story starts! "


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