Do you like wordless picture books? I remember being so befuddled the first time I encountered one. Like how do I even read this? Impressively, some of the best wordless picture books are the most moving — I don’t know how they do it! The books on this list highlight the power of imagery and most resoundingly confirm that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Excellent Wordless Picture Books for Kids
Here are some of the best wordless picture books for kids:
I Walk with Vanessa
Published: April 24, 2018
Inspired by real events, I Walk with Vanessa explores the feelings of helplessness and anger that arise in the wake of seeing a classmate treated badly, and shows how a single act of kindness can lead to an entire community joining in to help. By choosing only pictures to tell their story, the creators underscore the idea that someone can be an ally without having to say a word. With themes of acceptance, kindness, and strength in numbers, this timeless and profound feel-good story will resonate with readers young and old.
One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey
Published: April 7, 2020
From a tall tree growing in the forest–to the checkout counter at the grocery store–one little bag finds its way into the hands of a young boy on the eve of his first day of school.
And so begins an incredible journey of one little bag that is used and reused and reused again.
In a three-generation family, the bag is transporter of objects and keeper of memories. And when Grandfather comes to the end of his life, the family finds a meaningful new way for the battered, but much-loved little bag to continue its journey in the circle of life.
Wolf in the Snow
Published: January 3, 2017
A girl is lost in a snowstorm. A wolf cub is lost, too. How will they find their way home?
Paintings rich with feeling tell this satisfying story of friendship and trust. Here is a book set on a wintry night that will spark imaginations and warm hearts, from Matthew Cordell, author of Trouble Gum and Another Brother.
Published: October 6, 2020
Without a word, The Wanderer presents one little paper boat’s journey across the ocean, past reefs and between icebergs, through schools of fish, swaying water plants, and terrifying sea monsters. The little boat is all alone, and while its aloneness gives it the chance to wonder at the fairy-tale world above and below the waves, that also means it must save itself when it storms. And so it does.
Readers young and old will find the strength and inspiration in this quietly powerful story about growing, learning, and life’s ups and downs.
Small in the City
Published: September 5, 2019
I know what it’s like to be small in the city…
Being small can be overwhelming in a city. People don’t see you. The loud sounds of the sirens and cyclists can be scary. And the streets are so busy it can make your brain feel like there’s too much stuff in it. But if you know where to find good hiding places, warm dryer vents that blow out hot steam that smells like summer, music to listen to or friends to say hi to, there can be comfort in the city, too.
We follow our little protagonist, who knows all about what its like to be small in the city, as he gives his best advice for surviving there. As we turn the pages, Sydney Smith’s masterful storytelling allows us to glimpse exactly who this advice is for, leading us to a powerful, heart-rending realization…
Field Trip to the Moon
Published: May 14, 2019
Climb aboard the spaceship bus for a fantastic field trip adventure to the moon!
Once their bright yellow ship lands, students debark and set out with their teacher to explore. They jump over trenches and see craters and mountains on the moon’s surface and even Earth in the faraway distance.
But when one student takes a break to draw some pictures and falls asleep, they wake up to discover that the rest of the class and the spaceship are gone. How the student passes the time waiting to be rescued makes for a funny and unexpected adventure that will enchant children all over the galaxy.
With rich atmospheric art, John Hare’s wordless picture book invites children to imagine themselves in the story–a story full of surprises including some friendly space creatures. A perfect complement to discussions and lessons on the moon landing.
Published: September 17, 2019
It’s a big day up in the tree that Mama bird shares with her baby. Mama bird thinks Baby bird is finally ready to leave the nest and learn to fly so he can migrate south with the rest of their flock. But Baby bird isn’t so sure. Can’t his mother keep bringing him worms in their nest? Can’t he migrate in a hot air balloon instead? Or perhaps a car?
This silly wordless picture book will keep young readers giggling as Baby bird figures out that he must flap his wings and learn to fly—whether he likes it or not!
Published: August 1, 2017
Mr. Crocodile loves his job. Every morning he gets up with an alarm. He brushes his teeth. He chooses the right tie to match his outfit, eats a quick slice of toast, and heads off to work on a crowded train. But what exactly is his job? The answer may surprise you! Readers will want to pore over this witty, wordless book again and again, finding new details and fresh stories with every reading.
Spencer’s New Pet
Published: August 27, 2019
When Spencer gets a new pet, he’s excited to do all the things that pets do—taking walks in the park, going to the vet, and attending parties together.
There’s just one hitch: Spencer’s new pet is a balloon.
And that means No. Sharp. Objects.
No drooling dogs at the park. No prickly porcupines at the vet. And absolutely no pinning tails on any donkeys!
Published: April 6, 2017
In this short, wordless graphic picture book, a young boy feels alone with his anxiety. He isn’t fitting in well at school. His grades are slipping. He’s even lashing out at those who love him.
Published: March 27, 2015
In this wordless picture book, a little girl collects wildflowers while her distracted father pays her little attention. Each flower becomes a gift, and whether the gift is noticed or ignored, both giver and recipient are transformed by their encounter.
“Written” by award-winning poet JonArno Lawson and brought to life by illustrator Sydney Smith, Sidewalk Flowers is an ode to the importance of small things, small people and small gestures.
Little Fox in the Forest
Published: February 28, 2017
When a young girl brings her beloved stuffed fox to the playground, much to her astonishment, a real fox takes off with it! The girl chases the fox into the woods with her friend, the boy, following close behind, but soon the two children lose track of the fox. Wandering deeper and deeper into the forest, they come across a tall hedge with an archway. What do they find on the other side? A marvelous village of miniature stone cottages, tiny treehouses, and, most extraordinary of all, woodland creatures of every shape and size. But where is the little fox? And how will they find him?
Published: April 15, 2018
New from the creator of Skunk on a String comes Wallpaper, a wordless picture book in Thao Lam’s signature paper collage style. It tells the story of a young girl whose family moves into a new house. Outside, she can hear other kids playing, but she’s too shy to say hello. So she picks at the old wallpaper in her room―revealing an entryway to a fantastic imaginary adventure world behind the walls.
There, she runs between the vibrant and varied environments―surrounded by birds, swimming in a frog pond, in a herd of art-deco sheep―as she finds herself chased by a monster. He is frightening at first, until it becomes clear he simply wants to be her friend. When it comes time to go back to reality, the girl feels inspired with the courage to approach the other kids and say hello.
Published: March 5, 2019
What if you…
encountered another perspective?
Discovered another world?
Met another you?
What might you do?
Published: September 4, 2018
In this wordless picture book, Rosie wakes up in a monochrome world, with a dark cloud over her head. As she plods through her miserable, gray day, the cloud follows. Mishaps and mayhem thwart her every move, irritating noises assault her — and the pouring rain makes everything worse. But then, on her way home from school, Rosie finds a pair of strange glasses. When she puts them on, her world transforms into vivid, joyful color. All of a sudden, she can see the beauty and fun in everything around her — and her dark cloud has disappeared. Are the glasses magic? Or could it be that changing how we look at the world can change the way we experience it?
Published: November 20, 2018
Jenn’s beloved dog was lost sometime ago. Long enough that she has given up the search. But she still misses her friend. One day she finds a lost dog. She takes him in and despite a rocky start, she grows to love him. Until she spots his picture on a missing poster. His name is Roscoe, and he’s someone else’s best friend. Jenn knows she should return Roscoe, but she really doesn’t want to. Will Jenn do the right thing? Or will she keep this new dog she’s grown to love so much?
Flora and the Flamingo
Published: Flora and the Flamingo
In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Full of humor and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more of this fun flamingo story!
Published: October 1, 2013
In a near wordless masterpiece that could only have been devised by David Wiesner, a cat named Mr. Wuffles doesn’t care about toy mice or toy goldfish. He’s much more interested in playing with a little spaceship full of actual aliens—but the ship wasn’t designed for this kind of rough treatment. Between motion sickness and damaged equipment, the aliens are in deep trouble.
When the space visitors dodge the cat and take shelter behind the radiator to repair the damage, they make a host of insect friends. The result? A humorous exploration of cooperation between aliens and insects, and of the universal nature of communication involving symbols, “cave” paintings, and gestures of friendship.
Published: August 6, 2013
A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.
The Farmer and the Clown
Published: September 23, 2014
A baby clown is separated from his family when he accidentally bounces off their circus train and lands in a lonely farmer’s vast, empty field. The farmer reluctantly rescues the little clown, and over the course of one day together, the two of them make some surprising discoveries about themselves—and about life!
Sweet, funny, and moving, this wordless picture book from a master of the form and the creator of The Boss Baby speaks volumes and will delight story lovers of all ages.
A Ball for Daisy
Published: May 10, 2011
This New York Times Bestseller and New York Times Best Illustrated Book relates a story about love and loss as only Chris Rashcka can tell it. Any child who has ever had a beloved toy break will relate to Daisy’s anguish when her favorite ball is destroyed by a bigger dog. In the tradition of his nearly wordless picture book Yo! Yes?, Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka explores in pictures the joy and sadness that having a special toy can bring. Raschka’s signature swirling, impressionistic illustrations and his affectionate story will particularly appeal to young dog lovers and teachers and parents who have children dealing with the loss of something special.
Published: April 16, 2008
In this evocative wordless book, internationally acclaimed artist Suzy Lee tells the story of a little girl’s day at the beach. Stunning in their simplicity, Lee’s illustrations, in just two shades of watercolor, create a vibrant story full of joy and laughter.
Published: September 5, 2017
It starts with a line. Whether made by the tip of a pencil
or the blade of a skate, the magic starts there.
And magic once again flows from the pencil and imagination of internationally acclaimed artist Suzy Lee. With the lightest of touches, this masterwork blurs the lines between real and imagined, reminding us why Lee’s books have been lauded around the world, recognized on New York Times Best Illustrated Books lists and nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international honor given to children’s book creators. This seemingly simple story about a young skater on a frozen pond will charm the youngest of readers while simultaneously astounding book enthusiasts of any age.
Published: November 18, 2014
One wintry day, a hat lands on the head of a newly made snowman and brings him to life. Hiding inside the hat is a rabbit, who listens to the snowman read a story to some animal friends. When the snowman falls asleep, the rabbit hops away with the book. But the snowman isn’t about to let his story―or the mischievous rabbit―get away. The chase is on!
Published: November 9, 2010
Somewhere in Sydney, Australia, a boy and his family wake up, eat breakfast, and head out for a busy day of shopping. Meanwhile, in a small village in Morocco, a boy and his family go through their own morning routines and set out to a bustling market. In this ingenious, wordless picture book, readers are invited to compare, page by page, the activities and surroundings of children in two different cultures. Their lives may at first seem quite unalike, but a closer look reveals that there are many things, some unexpected, that connect them as well. Designed to be read side by side — one from the left and the other from the right — these intriguing stories are told entirely through richly detailed collage illustrations.
The Red Book
Published: September 27, 2004
A red book is lying in the snow in the city. When you open it, you find a new kind of adventure. You will be taken across oceans and continents when you just flip the page. But this book-in-a-book holds even more secrets to discover.
Lehman’s simple story line and surprising illustrations create an unexpectedly enchanting story about friendship, connectedness, and how stories can bring us together . . . and even bring us inside their pages.
Waltz of the Snowflakes
Published: October 17, 2017
It is a cold and rainy evening when Gran gives her granddaughter something special: tickets to the ballet. Her granddaughter is reluctant to go. The weather is terrible and they have to wear fancy, uncomfortable clothes. But as the curtains rise on The Nutcracker, the girl’s eyes light up as she’s introduced to the magic of the theater. The bright costumes, the intricate dances, the magical music, and a new friend all combine to captivate the girl and to bring color to an otherwise dreary evening.
Waltz of the Snowflakes is Elly MacKay at her finest, mixing her acclaimed paper-cut artwork with vibrant colors in this whimsical, dreamlike, and inspiring wordless picture book. A must-have for any ballet- and theater-obsessed reader and the perfect gift to be shared during the holidays or any time of year when the world outside needs a little bit of color and vibrancy.
Published: June 1, 2015
A little boy takes a boat made of newspaper out for a rainy-day adventure. The boy and his boat dance in the downpour and play in the puddles, but when the boy sends his boat floating down a gutter stream, it quickly gets away from him.
So of course the little boy goes on the hunt for his beloved boat—and when the rain lets up, he finds himself on a new adventure altogether.
This seemingly simply story from Daniel Miyares is enriched with incredible depth and texture that transcend words.
Published: April 2, 2013
A dog with a ball is one of the most relentlessly hopeful creatures on Earth. After his best little-girl pal leaves for school, this dog hits up yoga mom, baby, and even the angry cat for a quick throw. No luck. Forced to go solo, the dog begins a hilarious one-sided game of fetch until naptime’s wild, ball-centric dream sequence. The pictures speak a thousand words in this comic book-style ode to canine monomania. Ball? Ball.
Published: May 5, 2015
What happens when two shy children meet at a very crowded pool? Dive in to find out! Deceptively simple, this masterful book tells a story of quiet moments and surprising encounters, and reminds us that friendship and imagination have no bounds.
Published: March 1, 2010
A rainy day. Three kids in a park. A dinosaur spring rider. A bag of chalk. The kids begin to draw…and then…magic! The children draw the sun, butterflies, and a dinosaur that amazingly come to life. Children will never feel the same about the playground after they experience this astounding wordless picture book and the power of the imagination. Bill Thomson embraced traditional painting techniques and meticulously painted each illustration by hand, using acrylic paint and colored pencils.
Published: April 1, 2011
A little dog finds an umbrella in the garden on a windy day. The moment the dog picks up the umbrella, it catches the wind and pulls the dog skywards. This is the start to fantastic journey around the world. The wind carries the umbrellas and the dog all over the world, from the desert to the sea, from the jungle to the north pole.
Published: August 12, 2014
A charming story told solely through images: Through neatly drawn illustrations and a spare yet dramatic color palette, artist Lizi Boyd offers an enchanting exploration of night, nature, and art with Flashlight. Both lyrical and humorous, this visual poem—like the flashlight beam itself—reveals there is magic in the darkness. We just have to look for it.
• A wordless storybook with stunning visuals that aims to lighten the fear of the dark and the noises that come with it
• Book inspires the imagination and creativity in young minds
• Lizi Boyd is the author and illustrator of many children’s books, including Inside Outside and Flashlight, and also creates papers, ribbons, cards, and other works of delight
Lion and the Mouse
Published: September 1, 2009
In award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney’s wordless adaptation of one of Aesop’s most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted. After a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he’d planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher’s trap. With vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively-drawn characters, Pinkney makes this a truly special retelling, and his stunning pictures speak volumes.
My Friend Rabbit
Published: May 1, 2002
Rabbit saves the day in a most ingeneous way.
When Mouse lets his best friend, Rabbit, play with his brand-new airplane, trouble isn’t far behind. From Caldecott Honor award winner Eric Rohmann comes a brand-new picture book about friends and toys and trouble, illustrated in robust, expressive prints.
The Girl and the Bicycle
Published: April 29, 2014
A little girl sees a shiny new bicycle in the shop window. She hurries home to see if she has enough money in her piggy bank, but when she comes up short, she knocks on the doors of her neighbors, hoping to do their yardwork. They all turn her away except for a kindly old woman.
The woman and the girl work through the seasons, side by side. They form a tender friendship. When the weather warms, the girl finally has enough money for the bicycle. She runs back to the store, but the bicycle is gone! What happens next shows the reward of hard work and the true meaning of generosity.
Published: April 30, 2019
What do you do when no one can see your monsters but you? At first, Molly runs from them. But they follow her down the sidewalk, getting in the way when she tries to make a new friend, popping up unexpectedly out of shadows, and multiplying. Until finally…Molly faces her fears. Author-illustrator Brooke Boynton-Hughes delivers a modern classic in this moving adventure that honors everyday acts of bravery and the power of friendship to banish the monsters that haunt us.
Published: September 4, 2006
A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam–anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there’s no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share . . . and to keep. In each of his amazing picture books, David Wiesner has revealed the magical possibilities of some ordinary thing or happening–a frog on a lily pad, a trip to the Empire State Building, a well-known nursery tale. This time, a day at the beach is the springboard into a wildly imaginative exploration of the mysteries of the deep, and of the qualities that enable us to witness these wonders and delight in them.
Shine: A Wordless Book about Love
Published: March 3, 2020
Shine is the charming, wordless story of eight-year-old Mia, whose love and joy flow from her in beautiful, swirling color. Each day she walks through the dreary, cheerless city, but as Mia shares her love with the people she encounters, the city slowly transforms until everything around her is glowing with vibrant color.
Shine is a testament to the power one person has to change the world and influence the people around them.
Penguin Sets Sail
Published: March 1, 2020
Penguin dreams of being a sea captain, but the other penguins only think about fish. So penguin sets sail alone in search of friends and treasure galore. However, the ocean is big and dangerous, and Penguin may find himself wishing for home even in the middle of his great adventure. This wonderful story is told entirely through illustrations. Children must interpret the pictures and make connections to understand the plot, sequence and character development. Wordless books are a powerful tool for literacy development that helps strengthen comprehension and storytelling skills, making a great addition to your home or classroom library.
Published: February 5, 2021
(Sports humor) Two gophers feel the joy—and trials—of golfing (thanks to other critters). Children can find and name animals as they describe the action on the golf green.
There they are: 40 of the best wordless picture books you’ll find! Which of these have you read? I loved Rosie’s Glasses. Which ones did I miss?
More Picture Book Lists
- Picture books about spring
- Children’s books about welcoming a new sibling
- Picture books by Black authors