Visualization and the Vivid Reading Experience

Keywords: visualization, reading practice, Philip Pullman, La Belle Sauvage


Many teachers’ guides about teaching reading suggest that actively creating mental pictures is important or essential to comprehension. This article approaches the idea of the priority of visualization from three perspectives. It presents self-description from undergraduate readers of varied backgrounds, whose analysis of their own reading processes includes a range of approaches, from creating detailed imagery to developing a provisional schema to rejecting visualization altogether. A substantial review of current literature in neuroscience and cognitive poetics reinforces the viability of a more plural framework of interpretative strategies. Finally, the article explores how authors contribute to variation in readerly tactics through foregrounding and other narrative strategies, by means of an analysis of the opening three chapters of Philip Pullman’s novel La Belle Sauvage.


DOI: 10.1353/jeu.2019.0002

Author Biography

Margaret Mackey, University of Alberta

Margaret Mackey is Professor Emerita in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. Her most recent book is One Child Reading: My Auto-Bibliography (University of Alberta Press, 2016). She is currently working on a research project about early literacy and children’s known landscapes.

How to Cite
Mackey, M. (2019). Visualization and the Vivid Reading Experience. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 11(1), 38-58. Retrieved from

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