Pictures and picturing: mental imagery whilst reading illustrated novels

Aggleton, Jen (2022). Pictures and picturing: mental imagery whilst reading illustrated novels. Cambridge Journal of Education, 53(1) pp. 79–95.



The medium of illustrated novels has been neglected by educational research, and the limited current research on the influence of illustrations on a reader’s mental images is largely negative in tone. However, by adopting a participatory multiple case study methodology, this research provides a new understanding of the nature of mental picturing when reading illustrated novels. In exploring the responses of five 9–10-year-old participants to three illustrated novels, this study demonstrates that the interactions between illustrations and mental pictures are more complex than previously theorised. In addition, far from having a negative impact upon mental picturing, the potential of illustrations to interact with mental pictures should be embraced by practitioners as an opportunity for growth, enjoyment, and increased criticality and creativity.

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