In The New York Times article, “Writer Brings in the World While She Keeps It at Bay,” Julie Bosman sits down with novelist Donna Tartt to talk about her latest book, The Goldfinch. Here is what she had to say about her experience with images and writing:
“Taking copies of National Geographic, she would cut out pictures of a zebra or a child, and write a story about the picture. “I wrote books in this way, around images,” Ms. Tartt said, something that didn’t occur to her until “The Goldfinch” — a book that surrounds an image of a luminous yellow-tinged bird — was complete.”
One of our goals here at the Yale Center for British Art is to encourage teachers and students to make these connections between image and writing on a daily basis. Novelist Donna Tartt encapsulates this goal with her novel centered around a Dutch painting. Take a look at this article and see how art has influenced this successful writer. You can also buy a copy of The Goldfinch here.
The book Twilight Comes Twice by Ralph Fletcher, illustrated by Kate Kiesler is a wonderful book to use in conjunction with our Clouds and Skies Pinterest Board (found here).
This book, through eloquent text and lush paintings, explores the magic of dusk and dawn. Fletcher’s text is simple and accessible to children, yet rich in its imagery:
“With invisible arms
dawn erases the stars
from the blackboard of night.
Soon just the moon
and a few stars
The illustrations are equally appealing. The pages depict common daily activities such as early morning walks, streetlights flickering off and spiders rousing themselves from the night. The colors are calming; yet evoke all the senses as we remember the special time that passes ever so briefly each day. Use the images provided on Pinterest to compare and contrast with the words and images in the book.
A salient feature of strong reading is ‘picturing’, a fostering of words to create a visual terrain in our heads. We stroll along in a story, adding detail after detail, slowly shaping, ‘drawing’, or seeing a room, a chair, and conversation. We hear the words in what we imagine. We abstract from letters, worlds. A process in time. A skill in need of practice. As teachers we want to cultivate this participation, this move from letters on the page to figures in our minds.
How might a visual activity bring to light the power of words, the power of participation? Even in the 19th Century in our School Readers and Primers we wove together words and images, picturing and story, seeing and telling. Here’s one example from a Appletons’ School Readers Third Primer (1887).
Continue reading We abstract from letters, worlds.