Take a minute to imagine a holiday scene. Something that is a fond memory or a story that you share often with others. Maybe it is a Christmas morning, a Memorial Day picnic, a Thanksgiving feast, or a night of mischief at Halloween. As you are picturing your memory, think about the people who were there. What were they wearing? What conversations took place? What food did you eat? What did you smell? Recalling and sharing memories is one way to practice visualization. We can use these same practices as a reading strategy.
What Is Visualization?
Visualization is creating pictures in our mind as we read. It becomes an important way to comprehend our reading material. When you visualize, you should think about the smells, sounds, tastes, sights, and even the feelings. You can think about it as making a movie of the material as you read it.
Why is it important?
Visualization brings the reading to life. First, it makes it easier for us to understand the text because we are looking beyond the words and creating images. Through the images, we are able to recall the material much easier. Second, it helps you feel more connected to the material. You are able to see the characters and their actions and feel as if you are a part of the scene. Finally, it creates a more personal experience and even links you with the story. By imagining the characters and the setting, you are becoming more involved in the story.
How do I visualize?
When you visualize, remember that you are making the passage into a movie. So, you will want to be sure to consider all five senses, as well as any other details the author includes. When reading a passage, create a picture in your mind of the scene. Then, begin to add in the characters, the smells, the tastes, and what the character may be touching. Use the author's details to do so, but you can also use your own imagination - however you think you could best remember the scene.
When do I visualize?
You should visualize before, during, and after reading. Before reading, look at the title, skim the material, and note any pictures or graphs. Try to put an image in your mind of what you think the story will be about. During reading, begin to play the movie in your mind. After reading, review the material that you read by recalling the scenes you have created.
Visualization can take place in any type of writing. We can visualize short stories, novels, plays, and poems. For this exercise, we will try a poem. The following is an excerpt from T.S. Eliot's poem Preludes. As we read, be sure to visualize the poem:
'The winter evening settles down
With smells of steaks in passageways.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
the grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;'
What did you see?
How did you picture the winter evening night? Was the sun going down? Was the weather gray? The wind cool?
What smells did you identify?
The smells of food, smoke in the air, the winter air, or even the smell of the leaves that had withered.
What did you hear?
What would the end of the day sound like? People rushing home or maybe a quiet street? Was the wind loud? Did you hear the newspapers as they blew by?
What did you taste?
Did you imagine what the smoke would taste like? Or the steak? Even the taste of a cool night?
What did you feel?
As the speaker walked home, did you feel the tiredness at the end of a day? What about the feelings of winter? Did you feel that leaves and newspapers rustle against you?
Visualization is creating pictures in your mind as you read. You can think of it as making a movie of the writing. Visualization is important because it can help with our reading comprehension, make you feel more connected to the material, and create a more personal experience. You can visualize before, during, and after reading with any type of writing.
You should have the ability to do the following after this lesson:
- Define visualization
- Identify the purpose of visualization for reading comprehension
- Explain how to visualize when reading