Wordless Picture Books In Speech Therapy
I must admit, early in my SLP career I did not get how powerful using wordless picture books in speech therapy could be. Thankfully my collection has grown and I now use them often! They offer freedom to a child and take the burden and intimidation of reading away. Additionally, the absence of text makes them accessible to a student of any ability. The reader gets to have their own imagination about what the story says. It is critical that students know that reading pictures IS READING. So much of the story is often told through the images in a book. With wordless books, many kids will give you push back. Why? Because they are so trained to read WORDS! Using wordless books in speech therapy is a critical part of literacy-based speech therapy. You can teach figurative language, vocabulary, sequencing, and more! Here are my favorite wordless picture books and a free printable list below!
WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY?
One such way to build a child’s oral language skills is through the use of picture books (Sipe 2002).
Illustrations can provide children with visual cues in which to imagine story events, and infer what may happen next. When students read picture books with adults and peers, they are provided with the opportunity to acquire vocabulary and build oral language through story telling (Collins & Glover, 2015).
Wordless picture books have been found to be an exceptional way to accomplish these skills (Jalongo, Dragich, Conrad, & Zhang, 2002).
Children rely on their oral language ability to tell a story when they are not burdened with the task of decoding text (Collins & Glover, 2015).
Let me share with you my favorite wordless picture books for speech therapy and what language goals I use them for! Check your library to see if any of these are available. If you wish to add any to your own personal library, I have included my affiliate links to Amazon.
CHALK – by Bill Thomson is fascinating. The illustrations are SO life-like. The three children are in a park on a rainy day with sidewalk chalk. Everything they draw comes to life – the sun comes out and a dinosaur too! The kid's facial expressions offer numerous inferencing opportunities. Also, check out Fossil and The Typewriter by the same author!
Rosie's Glasses – by Dave Whamond. 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?
I love this book for imagery, symbolism, setting, compare/contrast, and inferring.
GOODNIGHT GORILLA – by Peggy Rathmann is a classic for a reason. This was a favorite when my own two boys were little. There are a few words but the illustrations tell the story. Hearing the giggles from kids act this one out is fun and lets me know they are engaged!
I love this one for sequencing!
Flashlight – by Lizi Boyd. 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.
I love this book for vocabulary.
A BALL FOR DAISY – by Chris Raschka is adorable. The cutest dog and her red ball. It's heartbreaking when another bigger dog destroys her favorite red ball.
I love using this book for teaching empathy, sharing, and doing the right thing.
PANCAKES FOR BREAKFAST – by Tomie DePaola. One of my all-time favorite authors! #geteverybook This is another classic. The little old lady wants to make pancakes and runs into issues each step of the way (somehow I can relate to her!)
This is fun to use for the concepts of problem solving and determination.
RAINSTORM -by Barbara Lehman. This author has several wordless picture books that I use. The illustrations in this book are ideal for anyone to easily begin telling a story.
This one is great for working on story elements.
WOLF IN THE SNOW -by Matthew Cordell is beautiful. The girl's red coat is striking against the white snow. I love this for teaching character development and plot. I hesitate to call it a “scary” book, but the girl is lost in a snowstorm and there is a pack of wolves.
Predicting is another great concept to focus on with this book.
FLOAT -by Daniel Miyares is a stunning and simple story about a boy on a rainy day who makes a paper boat. it gets away from him and destroyed and his emotions come through but his father consoles him and they make another. I find myself almost staring at the images thinking about the moment. So, yep!
I use it to target small moment narratives. This book comes with directions on how to make a paper boat! Additionally, use this when working on character development.
A BOY A DOG AND A FROG -by Mercer Mayer. Another beloved author! I have so many of his books. This book is another great small moment narrative. We've all had that moment of seeing a little creature that you creep up on hoping to catch it! I love the first moment he sees the frog and stopping to discuss what the boy is thinking! The facial expressions on the frog's face lend to excellent discussions.
I use this for predicting and plot.
RED SLED -by Lita Judge is a fantastic short read. A perfect wintertime read, this book is about a bear who “borrows” a child's red sled and goes for a joyride with his woodland friends and returning it without the child knowing it. I use this for onomatopoeia and character interpretation.
PROFESSIONAL CROCODILE -by Giovanna Zoboli is an illustrative treasure. An adorable book about a “day in the life” of a crocodile. As you are reading this, discuss daily routines, what can you infer about the location and time of year based on the transportation, buildings, Kids LOVE trying to figure out where he is going each day.
I use this book for personification, predicting, and inferencing.
If you have been intimidated by using wordless picture books in speech therapy, I hope this list helps get you excited to start using them more in your sessions! The pressure is off the student to tell the story with their own creative imagination – encourage this freedom!
If you'd like to know how I select books to use in therapy, see this post!
I know there are MANY more wordless picture book gems out there! Check out my entire list on Amazon. What are your favorites? How are you using them?
Here is a free printable list! Just enter your email and I'll send it directly!