Visualizing

This week our focus during Reading Workshop is on the strategy of visualizing while reading a fictional text.  Making a movie in my mind as I read is something that I have always done, without every receiving instruction on it.  It wasn’t until about six years ago that I realized how important this strategy really is to enjoying reading.

My sister got through high school with good grades, did all her work, read some books when she had to.  However, she never really enjoyed it.  And I think that you could count the number of books she had finished on one hand.  Then a certain vampire movie was coming out and she decided she was going to try to read the books.  She had seen all the previews and ended up reading the book in just a few days.  Shocking to both of us!

She told me,”Jennie, when I was reading I knew what the characters looked like and I saw it all happening as I was reading!  It was such a good book!”

I agree it is a good book, but it dawned on me that it was more about actually “seeing” it happening than the plot line. It wasn’t until that conversation that I realized not everyone visualizes while they read.    She never had.  However, now that she can make that movie in her mind, she loves to read.

I shared this story with my students today while I explained why I was making them draw pictures after every few pages of our read aloud.  I promised them that I wouldn’t let them wait until their twenties to start enjoying books.

Here are a few strategies I have found helpful in encouraging visualizing…

  • Read aloud a great chapter book and stop to draw pictures every few pages.
  • Draw along with them and explain how with more details from the author the picture in your head changes.
  • Don’t show them the illustrations in a picture book while reading the words. (EVER.  Not just when teaching the strategy directly.) Hold the book in front of you and read while they make the picture.  Then, turn the book after you finish the page.  (Yay! No more reading upside down and sideways!)
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