Visualizing and the role it plays in reading comprehension

Is your child an unmotivated reader?  Have you tried everything you can think of to help encourage him/her to read more but nothing seems to work?  If your child doesn’t seem to find much joy in reading you might want to ask your child if they visualize while they read.

As kids get to be older and move out of the picture book stage and into chapter books, they find that there aren’t many (if any) pictures to help them understand what they are reading.

Visualizing is an incredibly important part of comprehension, if your child isn’t seeing pictures in their mind while they read then they will not be engaged with their book, they will not find much joy in their everyday reading, and it will definitely affect their comprehension.

Often, I have many discussions with my kids (my students and my kids at home) that they should be seeing something similar to a moving picture in their mind.  While reading, kids should not only be seeing images of the setting, events and characters, but all of their five senses should be actively working.  

Great authors use figurative language and imagery that plays on all of our senses and sucks the reader into their book, but visualizing takes practice and experience!  If your reader is struggling and not showing much interest in their book, stop and ask them what pictures they see in their mind.  Have them pause after each chapter to draw a picture or explain the details they can see, hear, touch, taste and feel.  

Keep in mind that when kids begin to read they have lots of pictures to rely on which do this for them but as they grow older and begin to dive into chapter books, the pictures aren’t there anymore. We can’t just assume the child knows to visualize (nor can we assume they are automatically visualizing), we must discuss this strategy with them and provide them time to practice over and over until it becomes something they automatically do!

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