Wordless picture books are a great tool to use with English Language Learners. They allow students to practice making inferences and think critically without the language demands of reading text.
Students can make up their own stories orally and using writing. Wordless picture books are also a helpful tool for vocabulary development. Students can label the picture, either using sticky notes or writing on a projected image of the book. Another idea is to write a story as a class or small group in the present tense. Then have students turn the story into a past tense story.
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Wordless Picture Books to Use with ELLs
Here I am– In this book, a young boy immigrates to the United States. The pictures show that at first he is lost and confused. As time goes on he begins to get comfortable in his new home.
Mirror– View two cultures side by side. One family lives in Australia and the other in Morroco. Students can tell two different stories and compare and contrast the two stories. They can also see how the different stories interconnect.
Inside Outside– A child explores the seasons with different activities inside and outside. There are fun details in the die-cut illustrations for students to discover.
The Arrival– Follow the journey of an immigrant family as they leave their home country and travel to a new land. The pictures lend themselves to making inferences about why the family is leaving and the emotions that they are feeling. This book is targeted towards older students.
Drawn Together– This book tells the story of a boy and his grandfather. The boy and grandfather are not able to speak to each other as they speak different languages. At first, the boy is unhappy. Then through drawing the two are able to find a common connection. This book is not entirely wordless. There are enough pages without words that students can still use the pictures to come up with a story.
I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness– A girl moves into a new town. The pictures show that she is nervous and lonely as she starts at a new school. A bully makes matters worse. Another girl sees this happen. She struggles to decide how she can help. The next day she introduces herself and the two girls become friends. The new girl makes many more friends.
The Red Book– This tells the story of two children that both find a red book. They live in different places, but the book opens a window to their two worlds.
BirdCatDog (Three-Story Books)– A bird, cat, and dog each have their own story. In this wordless graphic novel, each animal has an adventure and is the hero of their story. Students can practice points of view and describing different perspectives with these stories.