Visualization Reading Strategy
Visualization is a wonderful reading strategy where the words in the text are used to create images in the mind. Using the mind’s eye can be an important comprehension technique for emerging readers to learn. Visualization helps to engage both the senses and emotions. It also taps into prior knowledge, evidence from the text and creativity.
“Whether students naturally imagine as they read or need to be explicitly taught to do so, they can all benefit from structured practice.” – Lindsay Barrett
Cathy Puett Miller has outlined five simple steps to help young readers visualize.
- Model. As you read together, describe what imagery comes to your mind. What words helped you to create the pictures in your mind?
- Practice. After you have finished sharing your thoughts, choose a passage (the more description the better) and have your young reader share their imagery. Before reading the passage, you may suggest they close their eyes and think about what is happening in the story. Encourage them to see what the words are describing. You may even engage the other senses by asking what the describing words (adjectives and adverbs) in the story feel like, sound like, taste like or smell like.
- Discuss. After sharing their imagery, if the visualization matches the passage well, praise them and encourage them to compare and contrast. However, if the visualization does not match the story, help them to question their images and adjust them. If they are struggling to create an image in their mind, choose a shorter passage and model again. Ask questions to provoke imagery such as, “What do you think the cat looked like?”
- Draw. Using a different passage, and without showing illustrations, ask your reader to draw what they imagine. Talk about what they drew.
- Reinforce. Visualization should be encouraged in regular reading. Go even further by talking about the feelings the characters might be experiencing.
Visualization helps readers to actively engage with the text. The more engaged a reader is, the more likely they will retain and understand what they’ve read. However, keep in mind that there is some research that indicates this practice is more helpful for children in grades three and above.
Find more information and ideas about visualization as a reading strategy in the resources below.
- Do You See Visualization as an Effective Reading Comprehension Strategy? And, for Whom?
- How to Introduce the Visualization Reading Strategy
- Visual Imagery
- Visualizing for Comprehension
- Why visualizing images is so important for young readers, and how to foster the skill
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