The Image and 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!

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The written word all by itself can be mighty. 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 the 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!

Start with one of literature's most simple and short poems, 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.

This haiku is concise but powerful and profound. Reading the text alone, you can understand things like the time of day. You 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 you know when reading this poem?

You don't know 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 how the poet felt or their attitude in the text.

Visual images and text-like poems can help contribute to the meaning and tone. Explore how this happens.

Look at the haiku you just read paired with the two images below.

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Example A shows a hiker with a backpack who is looking up at a beautiful 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 and contemplative
  • worried and frightened
  • enthusiastic and excited

If you chose thoughtful and 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 in danger but pauses in awe at the beautiful night sky. 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.

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 and contemplative
  • worried and frightened
  • enthusiastic and excited

You would likely choose worried and frightened here.

The image shown completely changes the tone and meaning of this text. The scene you see is one of chaos and devastation. Fires are 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 compelling ways.

Nice work!

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

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