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What do pictures bring to a story? | Reading

Don't skip the pictures in a book! Good readers use illustrations to fill in details about stories. Illustrations in stories are important because they help set the mood, describe events, and show details. Let's talk about how understanding pictures can help you understand stories even better.

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Video transcript

- [David] Hello, readers. Let's talk about illustrations. When you're reading a story and it has pictures in it, don't skip them. You could be missing out on a wealth of information and added detail. Good readers use pictures to help them understand stories even better. And let's talk about why that is. Pictures can help describe the mood of a story or how a story makes you feel. If I'm telling a story about a girl and her dad going for a walk in the woods, but then when you see an image of those woods and the trees are all spindly and black and the sky is a leaden gray, what does that tell you about the mood of the story? It's grim, it's creepy, it's a scary walk in some scary woods. The way the story feels can be expressed through the illustrations. Pictures can help describe the events of a story. Maybe the story's a little unspecific, say, for instance, we're talking about Little Red Riding Hood, and it says, "The big bad wolf swallows Granny up "and disguises himself as her." But it doesn't go into further detail. Well, what does that mean? What does his disguise look like? And we can look at an illustration like this and say: Okay, that big bulge in the wolf's stomach is where Granny is, and the wolf's got on Granny's bonnet and little glasses and all. So that's his disguise. It is not very convincing to me, but what do I know? And pictures can help fill in important details. I can look at a character's expression as I'm reading to help me answer questions I might have about how that character feels. What's going on there with the face of the wolf? Is that a smile, is that a grimace? The text can give me a clue, but then the picture can tell me the rest of the story. We can use our knowledge of how real life people are or behave to help understand pictures in a story. The wolf, for example, the face he's making with his eyes narrowed and his brows knit like that and that smile creeping across his features, to me, that's a scheming face. That's the face someone makes when they're talking to themselves and planning something nasty. He's also putting on Granny's bonnet and glasses. We know these aren't things wolves are known to wear. And he seems very pleased with himself. So he's eaten Granny, he's putting on her clothes. He seems really happy about it, but in an evil way, and we can use that to inform the way we read the story. This wolf isn't satisfied with eating an old woman. He wants to eat her grandkid for dessert. So greedy, what a greedy, mean little beast! The point is that pictures in stories are really useful. Read them the same way you read words. Understanding images will make you a stronger reader, and if you can learn that, why then, you can learn anything, David out.