Using Visual Imagery for Reading Comprehension

small boy reading book

Davis Dyslexia Correction builds reading comprehension skills by giving students the ability to link pictures to words as they read. Clay modeling is used to create a permanent mental picture for the small, abstract, function words of language — words like if, and, & from. For reading text, the student practices daily using Davis “Picture at Punctuation.” With this technique, the reader pauses whenever encountering punctuation such as a comma or period (full stop), and forms a mental picture to represent the meaning of the clause or sentence just read. This process gives the dyslexic reader the ability to harness the imagination and use it to express what the writer intended.

The use of visualization to build comprehension skills is supported by a substantial body of research. By adding an understanding of the impact of punctuation and small abstract words, the Davis approach provides a particularly powerful tool that can be used by readers of all skill levels.

See Research Reference List
  • Anderson, R.C., & Kulhavy, R.W. (1972). Imagery and prose learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 63, 242-243.
  • Center, Y., Freeman, L., Robertson, G. and Outhred, L. (1999), The effect of visual imagery training on the reading and listening comprehension of low listening comprehenders in Year 2.Journal of Research in Reading, 22: 241–256.
  • Chan, L.K., Cole, P.G, & Morris, J.N.(1990). Effects of instruction in the use of a visual-imagery strategy on the reading-comprehension competence of disabled and average readers. Learning Disability Quarterly, 13(1):2-11
  • Clark, F.L., Deshler, D.D., Schumaker, J.B. et al. (1984). Visual imagery and self-questioning strategies to improve comprehension of written material. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 17(3) 145-149.
  • de Koning, B. B., & van der Schoot, M. (2013). Becoming part of the story! Refueling the interest in visualization strategies for reading comprehension. Educational Psychology Review, 25(2), 261–287
  • Fredericks, A.D. (1986). Mental imagery activities to improve comprehension. The Reading Teacher40(1): 78-81
  • Gambrell, L.B. (1982). Induced mental imagery and the text prediction performance of first and third graders. In J.A. Niles & L.A. Harris (Eds.), New inquiries in reading research and instruction (31st yearbook of the National Reading Conference, pp. 131-135). Rochester, NY: National Reading Conference.
  • Gambrell, L.B., & Bales, R.J. (1986). Mental imagery and the comprehension-monitoring performance of fourth- and fifth-grade poor readers. Reading Research Quarterly, 21, 454-464.
  • Gambrell, L.B., & Jawitz, P.B. (1993). Mental imagery, text illustrations, and children’s story comprehension and recall. Reading Research Quarterly, 28, 264-276.
  • Gambrell, L.B., & Koskinen, P.S. (2002). Imagery: A strategy for enhancing comprehension. In C. C. Block & M. Pressley (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp. 305-318). New York: Guilford Press.
  • Hibbing, A.N., Rankin-Erickson, J.L. (2003). A picture is worth a thousand words: using visual images to improve comprehension for middle school struggling readers. The Reading Teacher56(8): 758-770
  • Horowitz-Kraus, T., Vannest, J.J., & Holland, S.K. (2013). Overlapping neural circuitry for narrative comprehension and proficient reading in children and adolescents. Neuropsychologia, 51, 2651-2662.
  • Just, M.A., Newman, S.D., Keller, T.A., et al. (2004) Imagery in sentence comprehension: an fMRI study. NeuroImage 21(1): 112-124.
  • Levin, J.R. (1973). Inducing comprehension in poor readers: a tet of a recent model. Journal of Educational Psychology 65(1): 19-24
  • Pressley, G.M. (1976). Mental imagery helps eight-year-olds remember what they read. Journal of Educational Psychology, 68, 355-359.
  • Sadoski, M., & Paivio, A. (2001). Imagery and text: A duel coding theory of reading and writing. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Steingart, S.K., & Glock, M.D. (1979). Imagery and the recall of connected discourse. Reading Research Quarterly, 15, 66-83.
  • Suggate, S. & Lenhard, W. (2023) Mental imagery skill predicts adults’ reading performance,
    Learning and Instruction, Volume 80 101633
Citation Information

Using Visual Imagery for Reading Comprehension. Retrieved April 24, 2024 from Davis Dyslexia Association International. Dyslexia the Gift website:

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