What Are Sensory Images?

As you muse over a poem, read a novel or pause over a newspaper story, a picture forms in your mind. Certain smells, tastes, sights, and feelings emerge, depending on what you’re reading and what life experiences you bring to it. Information comes to you through your senses. This technique, which is called visualizing or creating mental or sensory images, triggers a wide range of memories and feelings.

The same thing happens when you listen to the radio. Many people listen to radio stations not necessarily because of the quality of the music but because those songs take them back to their youth. The songs become much more than the notes and lyrics as old friends, old experiences, and old loves are revived in their minds. The songs are memory machines.

Sensory images are the cinema unfolding in your mind that makes reading three-dimensional.

If you can create that motion picture while listening to the radio, you can do it while reading a book. Sensory images are the cinema unfolding in your mind that makes reading three-dimensional. They are critically important to children because they make reading vivid and fun. As Madeline, a second-grader, said, When I start reading, it’s like turning on the TV. I pretend to put a movie on in my head.

When sensory pictures form in a youngster’s head as he reads, it’s a continuing creative action. Pictures, scents, tastes, and emotions burst forth, and his thoughts arouse them to aid the story feel. It’s this continuing creation of sensory images that maintain kids hooked on poetry, fiction, and even nonfiction.

If children don’t make sensory images while studying, they endure a sort of sensory deprivation. They’re overlooking one of the fantastic joys of reading. It might be just like walking into a theatre sitting in a chair, and using the lights go down and nothing appear on the monitor. Kids have to be educated that the words that they see, and also the words we read to them, possess the capability to produce a film in their own minds.