Even a bibliophile like me can experience read-aloud fatigue. Maybe my throat hurts. Maybe I’ve been talking to people all day and I just don’t feel like talking anymore. Maybe I’m sleep deprived. Maybe I don’t want to have my character voices micromanaged by my six-year-old.
If you want all the snuggle that comes with a read-aloud session but don’t feel like performing, these wordless books are perfect. They are also good for kids who want to “read it myself!” but don’t have the skills yet, or any reluctant readers who need a boost.
On a more somber note, these books would also be a perfect gift for cancer patients who are also parents. Even when their mouth hurts from the chemo, they can still read with their littles.
David Wiesner is the king of wordless. Pick up almost any of his books, and you’re sure to be delighted (and blissfully silent). Flotsam and Sector 7 are two of my favorites, but you can’t go wrong if Wiesner is on the cover. His creativity knows no bounds, and kids (and adults, if you’re like me) will pour over every page.
Barbara Lehman is another giant of wordless. She, too, has some Caldecott bling, and well-deserved. While Wiesner is still my favorite for the illustrations, Lehman’s adventures are just as exciting.
Well, as soon as I said Wiesner was my favorite, I remembered Aaron Becker. If you haven’t read his trilogy of fantasies featuring a magic crayon, STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND ORDER IT RIGHT AWAY. Maybe you’re thinking the magic crayon thing has been done before, but that’s silly because who can get enough magic crayons?
And now for Mark Pett. He’s the wordless master who will absolutely pull your heartstrings. I know I’ve mentioned one of his books before, but it’s worth revisiting again and again. I’ll try to squeeze The Girl and the Bicycle into at least three more posts before the year is out.
The Arrival by Shaun Tan is an absolutely magical story of immigration. My kids, who typically don’t respond well to this color palette, could not get enough of this story. Tan uses fantasy to create an absolutely true story of being new in a strange land. If you’ve been looking for an immigrant story to read to your children, this is a winner. Empathy times ten in this one.
Grace for Gus by Harry Bliss is another fun one. There’s a bit of seek and find for adults (most kids won’t notice Woody Allen or Donald Trump in the background, but they might recognize Calvin’s friend Hobbes), a little vicarious scandal (she sneaks out in the middle of the night to be a sort of money-making guinea pig hero?), and a protagonist who is so understated and cool about her own awesomeness, that she is sure to delight both kids and adults. If I remember correctly, this one is almost wordless, but I think it still counts.
I sort of have a thing for illustrations that are a mix of black-and-white and color. But there is even more to love about You Can’t Take a Balloon Into The Metropolitan Museum. Educational and so much to see in this one. From the illustrator who brought you Fancy Nancy, this is a delightful trip through the Met, especially if you, you know, live on the other side of the country and it’s not really an every day option. Weitzman and Glasser’s version is way more exciting than anything the Asbys could pull off anyway. This is why books are better than flights.
Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin is a sure winner. The illustrations are charming and cozy, and the story is lovely. Grab your child and a favorite stuffy and snuggle up.
Back to how perfect these books would be for parents on chemo, here are a couple of memoirs I can’t stop thinking about: The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs and Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler. (These are clearly for the grown-up readers in your home, as the subject matter is understandably heavy.)
Here’s hoping you all enjoy the magic of a very quiet read-aloud.
*P.S. I know the picture I posted has absolutely zero of my recommended books in it, but I saw No Talking on the shelf and couldn’t resist. One of my children takes issue with the photo and keeps arguing, “But No Talking isn’t wordless!!” I tried to argue for irony, but my kiddo wasn’t having it.