Books with no or few words? (comic books okay)
December 17, 2013 7:08 PM   Subscribe

My five year old is just starting to read, and loves looking through the Captain underpants books for their illustrations. I'd like to get him some books (or comic books) that have few or no words, or which he could at least follow without knowing the words. He's really into story, and I think it would entertain him, and also (for the ones with words) encourage him to read. His interests are the stereotypical boys ones -- sports, superheroes, etc, Suggestions?
posted by michaeldunaway to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Owly is a comic book with no words.

The David Weisner books are all awesome basically and almost no words. Go buy them immediately. According to one knowledgeable source he should really win another Caldecott for his newest book, but he might not because he has already won so many times.

Pancake Breakfast is also no words. Cute story, most libraries have it because it is a classic.

Duck! Rabbit tells a story through pictures mostly rather than words. Cute idea, makes you think.

A Ball for Daisy is a recent Caldecott award winner that has no words.

Good dog, Carl is a popular mostly word-free book if your son likes dogs. Carl babysits a baby which all in all is a bit odd, but kids love it.

You HAVE to buy Chalk about a magical chalk that comes to life after being drawn on the pavement. Includes obligatory T-Rex.

The book Hug is a cute one about a monkey. Only three words in the book.

Donald Crews is another good wordless author. I haven't read Truck, but this is just one example.
posted by aetg at 7:21 PM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

I would also mention that if you are looking for more choices I typed in wordless as a my search strategy. Some of the books were geared towards much older kids though, so read the summary :)
posted by aetg at 7:22 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

aetg you are incredible!
posted by michaeldunaway at 7:24 PM on December 17, 2013

Mo Willems is a HILARIOUS children's author whose books have words but can be "read" without much by way of reading skills. His books are favorites among pre-readers at school.

The Elephant and Piggie series is a lot of fun and would also encourage *some* reading by your little one.
posted by charmcityblues at 7:25 PM on December 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

Anno's Journey is a wordless picture account of a man walking through an unidentified renaissance-era European land. It's a little "where's waldo", since some of the pictures are complicated and you can try to find Anno in them... but also there are little stories embedded in some of the pictures and you can follow incidental characters from page to page. It's a thoughtful quiet book.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:31 PM on December 17, 2013

In the library world, these are cataloged under the subject 'stories without words.' Here's a blog post explaining how that works as well as listing out some titles.

If you'd like to borrow some books from the library instead of purchasing them, you can search on your own or ask a librarian for help. Otherwise, I put together a massive list of these books in Worldcat, which should automagically link you to your local library if they have the book in question.

My absolute all-time favorite story without words is Peter Sis' Dinosaur. It's fantastic, and if your boy likes stereotypical boy things he'll probably love it.
posted by librarylis at 7:49 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs - it's available in so many varieties, from board book to classic hardback, and there are even DVD editions to change it up.
posted by stormyteal at 8:55 PM on December 17, 2013

A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog by Mercer Mayer (and sequels) are nice stories with no words.
posted by 445supermag at 9:02 PM on December 17, 2013

There's a clever Peanuts collection called "It Goes Without Saying", which is nothing but wordless strips from the comic's history.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:14 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Where's Walrus is a huge hit with the kids I know
posted by ansate at 9:36 PM on December 17, 2013

The search term is "wordless books" and teachers have been seeking them out for years - they are good with emerging readers, language learners, for writing prompts, and for special needs readers -- so I think you will find lots!
posted by Miko at 9:43 PM on December 17, 2013

For comics - see if you can find back issues of Tiny Titans. It's brilliant.
posted by FritoKAL at 3:18 AM on December 18, 2013

For no words at all, I'd say

The Chicken Thief (and its sequel)
The Adventures of Polo

Tiny Titans is hard to beat. You should be able to find trades at your local comic shop, or you can order single issues from, which also has the excellent Superman Family Adventures.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:21 AM on December 18, 2013

The Adventures of Polo, mentioned above, is great (funny, sweet, surreal), and has almost no dialogue. There are also many shorter Polo books if that one's a hit.
posted by lisa g at 11:49 AM on December 18, 2013

Also, The Crocodile Blues.
posted by lisa g at 11:54 AM on December 18, 2013

Here's a list from my library stories without words
posted by amapolaroja at 3:19 PM on December 18, 2013

I'd like to second Elephant & Piggie by Mo Willems. The series is written comic book style, with each page having one or two panels, and characters have word bubbles when they talk. It's easy to follow along, even when you can't read the words, and they are hilarious. I mean, they really crack 5 and 6 year olds up. And when your son does start reading, they perfect for when you're confident about just a few words. (And because all the words are dialogue, you can read them together really easily; you just have to decide if you want to be Elephant or Piggie.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 5:54 PM on December 18, 2013

The Oxford Reading Tree program is based on this, with nine stages, increasing the number and complexity of words in each stage. The first stage is entirely wordless. We have the Traditional Tales set, which my daughter absolutely loves.
posted by goo at 1:37 AM on December 19, 2013

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