Think It, Read It, Picture It

Anne Larkin Oaks

Reading to Learn


Children need to be able to comprehend what they read.  An important step in comprehension is to gain a deep meaning of the text by visualization.  Teaching students to "see" pictures in their head of the action and events occurring on paper in the books and stories they read will enable them to gain deeper meanings and to think more abstractly and creatively.


-The Random House Book of Poetry for Children; Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting; drawing paper; crayons or markers 


1. First, I will have the students review the concept of silent reading. Teacher will ask, "Does anyone remember the steps to reading silently?" Silent reading is reading to yourself silently. You do not read the words aloud, but you read them silently to yourself. Sometimes when readers are reading silently, they may use their mouth to move like they are reading aloud, but no sounds are actually coming from their mouth. It is just like normal reading but there are no sounds being made.

2.  The teacher will next ask, "Has anyone ever read a story silently? Do you ever think about a picture of what is happening while you are reading?" Sometimes we do this when we are reading chapter books or books with little pictures. We use the words in the text to help us visualize what is happening in the story. This skill is a great skill that fluent readers use. It is called visualization. It is very important because it helps readers comprehend the meaning of the text. Visualization becomes more and more important the older you get because most adult books do not have any pictures. Therefore, the readers have to make their own pictures from their meaning.

3.  "Now, I am going to read a poem for you.  I want you to close your eyes while I read and try to make a picutre in your head that relates to what I am reading."   Read a poem with a lot of imagery like "The Wind" by James Reeves.

4.  Ask the students to think about the qualities that the wind possesses.  They can refer back to the poem if needed.  Explain the concept of getting "through a doorway without any key."  "Does anybody think that they could get through a doorway like that?  Of course not, only the wind and air can because they can move through small spaces.

5.  Continue to pick apart the poem and encourage students to "see" the lines of the poem it like "strip the leaves from the great oak tree," "steal through a garden and not wake the flowers," "seas I can move and ships I can sink," or "lie quiet as quiet."  Ask students to explain the images that they saw in their heads as the poem was read. After the children talk about their pictures say, "That is great!  You are all learning how to visualize and this is going to make reading more meaningful and exciting."

6.  "Now we are going to read a passage from Tuck Everlasting. Everyone turn to page 60 and read the first two sentences of chapter 12 to yourselves silently."   Now, have the children take out paper and markers or crayons and draw what they think the sky and sun looked like.  Have students compare share and compare drawings with one another.

7. For assessment I would break the children down into small groups and give them several pages pre-selected pages to reread, perhaps even an entire chapter and ask them to discuss the pictures they visualized while reading it.  I would sit in on each group's discussion and question and comment as needed to ensure that the children were able to comprehend and visualize effectively.  I would also use a checklist to monitor what the students were visualizing.  Did they mention the appearance of characters, setting, feelings/emotions, or the actions?  Using a checklist with this items would be helpful.


Babbitt, Natalie.   Tuck Everlasting.  Sunburst. 1975. 
Lesson by Lindsey Long "Imagine This." 
Prelutsky, Jack.  The Random House Book of Poetry for Children:  A Treasury of 572 Poems for Today's Child.  1983. 
Pressley, M., Johnson, C., Symons, McGoldrick, J.A. and Kurity, J.A. Strategies That Improve Children's Memory and Comprehension of Text.  1989. pp.9-10.

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