For a moment, imagine what it would be like to literally, only see the words on a page and no picture in your mind to go with it. This is the reality for many of our early readers. We have to help jump-start that movie for them going on in their head. Visualizing can be referred to as the motion picture of the mind. Without using these images in your mind reading can be a blank slate.
One outstanding resource for parents is a book called The Seven Keys to Comprehension by Susan Zimmerman and Chryse Hutchins. This book suggests some signs that your child is not visualizing. They include:
- Lack of interest in reading
- Inability to put into his/her own words a description of what he/she’s reading or what you have read to them.
- Lack of interest about whether the story is finished or not
- Inability to describe characters, setting or what is happening in the story
Talk with your child about the “movie playing in your mind” and ask them directly about it.
Do you see it?
What do you see?
What does it look like?
What does he/she look like?
What does it sound like?
Visualizing is yet another strategy that is found in classrooms across the country. As adults we may take for granted everyone can get that picture going. Now we know that good readers do this early and continually for best reading comprehension.
Remind your child that when the movie in their mind stops or begins to fade, they should stop and go back and re-read to get it back. We do this as adults all the time and they will do it for the rest of their lives too!
One example of using visualizing with picture books involves the Be There Bedtime selection called Penelope and the Monsters. In the story Penelope is not happy about having to go to bed. On one page it says: “’There are no such things as monsters. Now go to sleep’. Penelope’s father turned out the light and closed the door behind him.”
At this point you could stop and ask your child if they can see Penelope sitting in her bed in the dark. You could even ask them what expression she may have on her face. Just as if you were sitting bedside with a book in your lap, a webcam recording offers the same opportunity to pause before you turn the page and ask the child some questions about what is not there in the illustration on the computer screen. Kids love to interact with video! Rest assured, what might feel like awkward silence as you are reading your story out loud and recording into cyberspace will feel very interactive and magical at the moment it is delivered to the child.
Visualizing can then lead to making connections (text to self) as then you can ask, “how do you feel when you are in a dark room at bedtime?” This is giving your young reader the opportunity to engage fully with the text.
Until next week, happy reading!