March 5 is World Read Aloud Day; a perfect time to try Reading with Eyes Shut visualization techniques. I have a sample posted for reference here. It demonstrates how narrators can add rich visualization to a reading session.

As a narrator or storyteller, it helps to do a little pre-planning before you sit down with your listeners. Read through the chapter you are going to narrate, and note where you want to add visualization. You can use sticky notes if you hesitate to write in the margin of a book. When using ebooks, you can use the annotation feature, if you are comfortable with it.

You can refer to an earlier post “Tips for Narrators” for a list of places in the text where you might insert visualization. To summarize, look for places where new characters are introduced, where the scene changes, or where something visual is happening plot-wise. Your goal is to help your listeners to picture vivid scenes in their minds. You can elaborate on the author's descriptions with material that you imagine or that the author offers later in the book. You can also ask questions that lead your listeners to paint in the details with their own imaginations.

Setting the Activity
Some listeners, especially those who are reluctant readers, are easily distracted, so the beginning of the session is key to making it a success. Give your listeners motivation to participate. Here are some ways to begin:

“One of the reasons people love books is that they can create and control entire worlds in their minds. Let's see if you can create a world based on this story. You're going to make the very best world if you close your eyes, listen to the story, and try to make a movie in your mind.”

“This book has some crazy people in it. You can really enjoy them if you close your eyes and try to picture them yourself.”

“This story is very mysterious. There are lots of clues to the mystery, but you might miss them unless you can picture what's happening in your mind. So, why don't you close your eyes so you can visualize the story and solve the mystery.”

“The books that older kids and adults read don't have pictures in them, so what makes them so interesting? People who are skilled readers paint pictures in their minds as they read the story. Let's see what kind of pictures you can create if you close your eyes while I read to you.”


You get the idea. Just make sure to supply a good reason for your listeners to close their eyes. And make sure they are comfortable that nothing bad is going to happen when their eyes are closed.

Visualization Key Words
So next, what can you say to facilitate the visualization process. Here are some phrases that can help:

Picture a boy, any boy...”

Imagine that you are in a dark tunnel...”

Make a movie in your mind...
Visualize...
Can you see it in your mind?

“The story begins on a tropical island. Let's create a picture of it in our minds. Suppose you're a bird, flying above it. You can see turquoise water of the ocean. The island is fringed with white sand beaches....”

What does it look like? Is the island? Round? Long? Square? Kind of wiggly?”

Now there's an image you can play with. Mrs. Petrie slumped in her chair in a blob-like way, snoring...”

I'll give you some clues about Charlotte. She is tall and slim, graceful like a dancer...”

“Jonathan is about the same age as Charlotte. Is he tall or short? Muscular? Tubby? You can fill in the details.

Listen to this description and see it in your mind...

“Do you have any idea what might happen next? Make a movie of it and play it in your mind.

Putting it all Together

Once you've marked the passages where you'll insert visualizations, and you've some idea of the phrases you'll use to invoke images, you are ready for the best part—reading loud. Enjoy!
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Published on March 04, 2014 11:19 • 486 views • Tags: edison, read-aloud, reading-with-eyes-shut, reluctant-readers, visualization

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Reading With Eyes Shut

J.J. Parsons
Reluctant readers may spend so much effort decoding words, that they have no additional mental capacity for imagery. Because decoding is “hard” and without imagery, there is little pleasure in reading ...more
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