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How to Teach A 4th Grader to Read a Picture

Written by Rebecca

January 16, 2021

A lesson on how to read a picture with a 4th grader. 

Reading images might be complicated, but using real world examples and discussions makes it easier to read images. 

A parent, N.J., provided a visual-literacy lesson with her daughter in December 2020. In her original social media post, she wrote:  “My daughter and I are studying Frida Kahlo as a well as imagery and symbolism (mainly using poetry.) One of her activities today will be to visit the Museo Frida Kahlo and survey some of her paintings via Google’s Arts and Culture link. “



You can find her lesson connected to the common core standard-enhance her daughter’s reading comprehension and visual literacy. This visual Common Core Standard indicates CCSS. ELA-Literacy.CCCRA.R7, “Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.”

Implementing a visual literacy standard indicates that you are viewing lines, colors, objects, patterns, animations, interactions, and more. The viewer is searching for cues to better understand what they are viewing.

Literacy Ideas states, “We can think of visual literacy as involving the similar processes of interpreting images and creating images. In a fast-moving world, with ever-increasing diagnosis of attention deficit disorders, we increasingly rely on images to quickly convey meaning.”

Reading images has a place for reading, comprehending, and understanding. When a young person reads a text with many pictures, you can use that time to-ask questions about the images, relate images to the real world, show examples, and build a conversation about what you see.


Below you can view more about N.J’s lesson at home.



We started reading a book about Friday. I asked opened ended type questions “What Do You Think?”


As we progressed, the book discussed the names of her paintings and the concept of surrealism. As an observation/art activity I printed one of work and asked, “What do you think she was feeling?” or “What makes you think…” “How does the color in the background make you feel that?” (Many of Kahlo’s paintings Hancock vibrant backgrounds.)

On a notecard, I asked her to write what she thinks each object represents. Later we discussed why.


We transitioned a bit into Shel Silverstein, Maya Angelou and Nikki Grimes. We focused on illustrations and poem titles to predict what the poem was discussing or how the author was trying to communicate the point of you.

I allowed her to visit a museum and eventually select a painting to observe.


N.J’s at home activities allowed her daughter to think about the words and images. As you are at home with your children, what is working well in your home?

Pennez means to think so we can empower children to think as they read. We exist because 65% of all students in the U.S. struggle to read by fourth grade, and among African American and Latino children, the figure rises to 80%. We aim to fix this problem with our helpful reading software for children.

Click here to learn more.

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