Visualize Strategy

What is it?

The Visualize Strategy involves creating a vivid image in your mind based on what you read. Visualizations can include sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings—anything that makes the scene more real.

Why should I do it?

Visualizing brings the text to life. Rather than just using words, you can engage your imagination and all of your senses. When you visualize, you gain insight into the experiences of the people you read about; placing yourself in someone else's perspective helps you empathize with his or her emotions. Also, visualizing important moments in the text helps you remember them later.

How do I do it?

Stop at key points while you're reading and create a picture, movie, or sound clip in your mind about what you just read. You could visualize one moment in time, or you could visualize a sequence of events. Sometimes it's helpful to imagine that you're inside the scene described in the text. You might take the perspective of a character in a story or an historical figure in a nonfiction text. You might imagine the same scene from more than one perspective. Whichever perspective you choose, close your eyes and imagine the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings. The more vivid you make your visualization, the more real it will feel.

Self Check

Good visualizations:


After reading the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening", by Robert Frost, I visualized the scene and saw this in my mind:

I sit on the wooden seat of a carriage and hold the horse's reins in my gloved hands. The night is cold and dark, and snow falls in heavy flakes. Hot streams of breath billow from the horse's nostrils. He shakes his head, and the harness jingles. Smells of old leather and fresh snow mix together on the air. The cold prickles the skin of my face. I look down the hill and see a village in the distance. A few houses have lights in their windows. Smoke curls from their chimneys. Beside me, the trees stretch high into the night sky.

Visualization Tip: Be an artist! Be a movie director!

Visualizing works differently for each person. Be creative in how you construct your mental images. You can even invent details that seem to fit with the scene the writer has created. Use all of your senses to bring the scene to life in your own way.