word-pictures and poems
I love the excitement and anticipation that those two connected words create! I’d put them in the same category as the words surprise and serendipity!
But sometimes, word-pictures need a little teasing-out!
I prefer to read poetry to children without first showing the illustration or displaying it as I read from the magazine or book.
I want the children to listen to the poem.
Afterwards I have several questions.
Did this poem remind you of anything?
What were your thoughts as I read the poem?
What word-pictures came into your mind?
During a recent school visit, I read a published poem of mine, called Dancing Cat.
I held back from showing the picture, explaining that the illustration is only one person’s way of seeing the picture. I wanted the children to appreciate the fact that their own word-pictures were equally valid before offering another image. However, I also added that an illustration could also expand thoughts and ideas as well as displaying different media or techniques.
When I asked about word-pictures, one boy said he imagined a cat leaping in the air – which happens in the poem. It was a bald comment, without much detail. By gently questioning further, I was able to encourage the boy to offer more information. In the end, he said the cat had long brown-and white fur that swished and swayed as it leapt. Beautiful!
I heaped praise on the boy’s expanded comments, suggesting that now I could see the idea of his imagined cat, because of the word-pictures he gave back to me.
By now there were plenty of hands in the air. Here’s a few of mind-pictures from others in the class.
A pure white cat in a tutu leaping from a brick wall.
A brown cat in a pirate’s outfit.
A cat with fluffy black fur and eyes like stars.
It excited me to see how much richer the children’s mind-pictures were when they allowed themselves to offer extra details.
The teasing-out had paid off!