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Visual Literacy.

This column presents and summarizes recent resources related to helping elementary school students develop visual literacy.


CHILDREN READING PICTURES: Interpreting Visual Texts. Evelyn Arizpe & Morag Styles. London: Routledge Falmer, 2002. 224 pp. The first part of this text discusses the theoretical foundations of children's picture books. The second part explains a methodology that can be used to evaluate how visual texts affect young readers. The text continues with case studies that highlight some children's reactions, both oral and visual, to picture books by two particular authors.

VISUAL LITERACY: Learn To See, See To Learn. Lynell Burmark. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2002. 115 pp. Providing instruction in visual literacy in K-12 classrooms can enhance students' learning. To help teachers with this instruction, this text defines, and presents a history of, visual literacy; discusses some aspects of visual literacy, such as color; proposes the use of visuals to welcome students; and explains the combining of real and virtual worlds.

Journal Articles

VISUAL LITERACY AND SCHOOL LIBRARIES. Keith McPherson. Teacher Librarian, Vol. 32, No. 2 (December 2004): 58-59. This article advises teacher-librarians on how to enhance their own visual literacy skills and those of their students. The development of students' skills in visual literacy has a positive effect on reading comprehension and provides students with a choice of ways for interpreting their social and cultural contexts.

WHAT DO I SEE? WHAT DO I THINK? WHAT DO I WONDER? (STW): A Visual Literacy Strategy To Help Emergent Readers Focus on Storybook Illustrations. Janet C. Richards & Nancy A. Anderson. The Reading Teacher, Vol. 56, No. 5 (February 2003): 442-444. This article describes a visual literacy strategy to help emergent readers concentrate on storybook illustrations. Visual literacy provides an alternate way of knowing by promoting problem-solving abilities and higher order thinking; and it stimulates the imagination, curiosity, and interest of emergent readers.

JUMP STARTING VISUAL LITERACY. Philip Yenawine. Art Education, Vol. 56, No. 1 (January 2003): 6-12. To help learners on the journey to visual literacy, the author makes suggestions for selecting images for use in the museum or the classroom. The suggestions are related to accessibility, narrative, expression, media, diversity, realism, and subjects.

INTEGRATING VISUAL ARTS LITERACY: What Do You Need To Know? How Can You Begin? Janet C. Richards. Journal of Reading Education, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Fall 2002): 42-43. In order to successfully teach visual art lessons in the classroom, pre- and inservice teachers must develop a deeper, more conceptual understanding of the power of art to communicate meanings, beliefs, ideologies, and experiences.

"LETTING THE STORY OUT": Visual Encounters With Anthony Browne's "The Tunnel." Evelyn Arizpe. Reading: Literacy and Language, Vol. 35, No. 3 (November 2001): 115-119. A study examined children's responses to picture books to learn how visual literacy can expand their cognitive abilities and enhance their enjoyment of such complex texts. The study focused on responses to "The Tunnel" by Anthony Browne by children of different ages and from different schools.

INTEGRATING VISUAL AND VERBAL LITERACIES IN THE EARLY CHILDHOOD CLASSROOM. Carolyn Pope Edwards & Linda Mayo Willis. Early Childhood Education Journal Vol. 27, No. 4 (Summer 2000): 259-265. The authors discuss integrating visual and verbal literacies, with a stress on the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education--an approach that fosters the expressive and communicative skills of young children. Suggestions for teachers are presented.

VISUAL LITERACY. Cyndi Giorgis, Nancy J. Johnson, Annamarie Bonomo, Chrissie Colbert, Angela Conner, Gloria Kauffman, & Dottie Kulesza. Reading Teacher, Vol. 53, No. 2 (October 1999): 146-153. This article describes 36 illustrated children's books that provide excellent examples of illustration and design, grouping them according to use of line, color, perspective, technique, texture, and composition and design.

BROADENING CONCEPTUALIZATIONS OF LITERACY: The Visual and Communicative Arts (Visual Literacy). James Flood & Diane Lapp. Reading Teacher, Vol. 51, No. 4 (December-January 1997-1998): 342-344. This article describes two hours in the life of an 8-year-old to demonstrate that children acquire information and develop language skills from multiple sources. The article argues that the conceptualization of literacy must be broadened from reading and writing skills to a definition that recognizes the layering of information and that includes all forms of the communicative and visual arts.

Web Resources

International Visual Literacy Association (IVLA) The IVLA provides a forum for the exchange of information related to visual literacy among researchers, educators, and artists.

Visual Understanding in Education (VUE) VUE is a nonprofit organization that conducts educational research focusing on the aesthetic and cognitive development that results from interaction with art. VUE produces the VTS curriculum (see below).

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) VTS is a K-5 curriculum that uses a learner-centered method to examine and find meaning in visual art, and that uses art to teach thinking, communication skills, and visual literacy. See also the Introduction to Visual Thinking Strategies at

Guidelines for Image Selection for Beginning Viewers for_Image_Select.pdf This paper offers guidelines on selecting images to use with beginning viewers, either in the museum or the classroom, to help them learn to engage with art.

MOVING TOWARD VISUAL LITERACY: Photography as a Language of Teacher Inquiry. Mary Jane Moran & Deborah W. Tegano. Early Childhood Research & Practice, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Spring 2005). Also available in Spanish as EL DESARROLLO DE LAS HABILIDADES INTERPRETATIVAS VISUALES: La fotografia como modo de investigacion docente. This article discusses the role of photography as a language of teacher inquiry. One part of the article includes three applications of photography in teacher inquiry: representational, mediational, and epistemological. The three functions are defined, and examples from preschool and early elementary school classrooms are provided to illustrate how photography promotes inquiry-based classroom practices. Each example demonstrates an analysis of how educators can use photography to move the field of education toward visual literacy.

"READING" YOUNG CHILDREN'S VISUAL TEXTS. Sylvia Pantaleo. Early Childhood Research & Practice, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Spring 2005). Also available in Spanish as LA'LECTURN DE LOS TEXTOS VISUALES DE NINOS PEQUENOS.

A study explored 1st-grade students' visual and written responses to eight picture books, focusing on children's parallel and interdependent storytelling. Analysis revealed that for seven of the books, half of the children's visual and verbal responses emulated the interdependent storytelling nature of the picture books used in the study. The article discusses the value of viewing children's work as miniature ecosystems and the importance of developing children's visual literacy skills.

TALKING ABOUT VISUAL TEXTS WITH STUDENTS. Jon Callow. Reading Online, Vol. 6, No. 8 (April 2003). This article explores students' understanding of the visual aspects of their own multimedia presentations; and suggests that students need access to a meta-language in order to explain their own visual designs and develop more sophisticated and critical understandings about how visual texts are constructed.

VISUAL LITERACY IN TEACHING AND LEARNING: A Literature Perspective. Suzanne Stokes. Electronic Journal for Integration of Technology in Education, Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring 2002. Stokes.html This article introduces visual literacy, and reviews the literature on the effects of instruction that incorporates varying degrees of visual components. The purpose of the review is to stimulate interest in using visual enhancements in teaching and to promote the development of learners' visual skills in combination with verbal, reading, and mathematical skills.

Expressing Emotions Through Art teachers/ curricula/expressing_emotions/ This curriculum, produced by the Getty Museum for use with primary grade students, helps children make personal connections with works of art, study artistic principles (such as line and shape), and express thoughts and feelings about caring with art activities. The four lesson plans in this unit are correlated with California's and national standards for visual arts education.

Visual Literacy Lesson Plans From the Gateway To find lesson plans on visual literacy, begin at the Gateway to Educational Materials home page. In the search box on the right side of the page, type "visual literacy" and select "full text" (the default option; or select title, description, or key words for a more focused search). After you obtain your search results, you can narrow your search: go to the righthand sidebar under the section for "Type" and select "lesson plan."

Visual Literacy K-8 This site, established by one specialist in reading and visual literacy, provides free information and resources for teachers, as well as books for sale.

Center for Media Literacy (CML), Visual Literacy resources html This section of the CML Web site presents articles and reports on visual literacy, with an emphasis on helping children interpret images in popular media.

21st Century Skills: Visual Literacy htm This page on the Web site of the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) provides a brief introduction to visual literacy, and a bibliography of texts and Web resources.

The Early Childhood and Parenting (ECAP) Collaborative contributed this column. Further information on ECAP projects is available from ECAP, Children's Research Center, University of Illinois, 51 Getty Drive, Champaign, IL 61820-7469; phone: 877-275-3227 or 217-333-1386; E-mail:; URL:
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Article Details
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Author:Cesarone, Bernard
Publication:Childhood Education
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2005
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