The Image & Text Connection

Contributor: Stefani Allegretti. Lesson ID: 13883

Did you know that images can contribute to the meaning and tone of texts? Explore how pictures add to and change what you read as you learn how to analyze the way images affect the written word.


Verbal Communication, Writing

English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


The written word all by itself can be very powerful. However, when combined with a visual element like an image, a text can take on a whole new meaning!

Visual images, like photographs and illustrations, help us to see and understand text in a way that we could not have otherwise.

Visual images can also contribute to the meaning, tone, and even the beauty of text, changing the way it is perceived or understood by the reader.

Keep reading to explore different examples of how simple images affect the meaning and tone of the written word!

Let's start with one of the most simple and short poems in literature, called a haiku.

Haikus originated in Japan and are only three lines long. Read the haiku poem below written centuries ago by Japanese poet Masaoka Shiki:

  • My life,-
  • How much more of it remains?
  • The night is brief.

While this haiku is very short, it is also very powerful and profound. Reading the text alone, we can understand things like the time of day. We also know that the night is described as brief, which means short.

It is also clear that the poet is wondering and questioning how much more life he has left when he asks, "How much more of it remains?"

  • But, what don't we know when we read this poem?

What we don't know is the poem's true meaning or the feelings the poet had or intended the reader to feel when he wrote this poem. The tone of this poem is somewhat of a mystery.

Tone, as it relates to literature, is the way the poet was feeling or their attitude in the text.

Visual images, when coupled with text like poems, can help contribute to the meaning and tone. Let's explore how this happens.

Take a look at the haiku you just read paired with the two images below:

Example A shows a hiker with a backpack who is looking up at a beautiful and breathtaking scene of the night sky with the moon shining and the stars twinkling.

Take a moment to analyze these words paired with this image.

Which of the following sets of words would you choose to describe the tone and mood of Example A?

  • thoughtful & contemplative
  • worried & frightened
  • enthusiastic & excited

If you chose thoughtful & contemplative, you were correct!

This image changes the tone and mood of this poem to one that could be thoughtful and contemplative.

  • How has the meaning changed?

The hiker does not seem to be in any danger but instead seems to be pausing to look up at the beautiful night sky in awe. Therefore, My life- How much of it remains? is likely asking how many more moments like this one the person has left to live and experience.

Let's look at Example B now.

Take a moment to analyze these same words paired with this new image.

If you had to choose a set of words to describe the tone and mood of this text in combination with the image in Example B, which would you choose from the list below? Take a moment to think about this...

  • thoughtful & contemplative
  • worried & frightened
  • enthusiastic & excited

We would likely choose worried & frightened here.

The image shown completely changes the tone and meaning of this text. The scene we see is one of chaos and devastation. There are fires burning all around.

So, when the poet writes My Life-, How much more it remains?, it becomes more of a question about whether he will survive the wildfires, chaos, and destruction he finds himself in through the night.

Images can change the meaning and tone of a text in very powerful ways.

Nice work!

Now, let's move on to the Got It? section to practice analyzing more images with text!

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