Areas of Expertise


Adolescent Literacy

Reading Strategies

Strategy: Guided Imagery

Pressley, M. (1977). Mental imagery helps eight-year-olds remember what they read. Journal of Educational Psychology, 68, 355-359.

Long, S. A., Winograd, P. N., & Bridge, C. A. (1989). The effects of reader and text characteristics on imagery reported during and after reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 24(3), 353-372.


Researchers have proven that the use of Guided Imagery prior to reading a text will improve comprehension. It is important because it activates prior knowledge, allows students to visually perceive concepts, helps them to clarify and solve problems, and lets them use their imaginations. It is important when using Guided Imagery that the teacher select a text in which there are excellent images.


  1. The teacher introduces the idea of forming mental pictures by telling the students that doing so will improve their comprehension.
  2. Guided Imagery is then modeled by the teacher. The students are told to close their eyes and listen as a passage is read aloud. It is sometimes helpful to suggest that they make a movie of the story or material in their minds. During the reading, the teacher stops now and then to ask students to describe what they are seeing and sensing.
  3. After the passage is read, various students can share what "images" came to mind and how this has helped them understand and remember the story or information. During this discussion, record their thoughts on the chalkboard or an overhead.
  4. Students continue reading the passage, applying this strategy.

Note: For students who have difficulty organizing, storing, and retrieving information, it can be suggested that they use their five senses during reading. Following are questions they might ask themselves as they read. How do I feel? What am I smelling? Where am I? What is going to happen next?

Created with assistance by Tamara Jetton.


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