Reading Review: Visual Literacy

Though there are many important issues I thought about for this reading review, I kept coming back to information literacy, as it is what put me on the path to becoming a teacher-librarian. I found when working in high school libraries, students often did not understand how to properly research a topic or find reliable sources/websites. I felt that with so much information, literally at their fingertips, students needed to understand how to find, evaluate and use it effectively. However, my view of information literacy has expanded to includes other literacies such as media literacy, digital literacy, and visual literacy. Of these, visual literacy is the only one I had thought little about in my teaching practice. I am not a visual learner, and though I understand the importance of allowing students to learn and/or express their understanding of a topic visually, I had never really given much thought to visual literacy; the ability to make meaning out of a variety of visual images including artwork, photographs, diagrams, etc. However, as students are receiving massive amounts of highly visual information from the Internet daily, it is essential that all students understand how to interpret this visual data.


In my studies I have read about the importance of visual literacy and collected some ideas for using picture books and graphic novels in the high school classroom. However, I haven’t yet looked into how to specifically teach visual literacy. As I am not a visual learner, I find this a little daunting. As this course is meant to expand our knowledge of digital technologies as learning tools in the library and classroom, I would like to find some ideas to incorporate technology with teaching visual literacy.


Through other courses I have become more comfortable using technology, but still feel the learning curve for me is pretty steep. I feel kinship with Douglas Adams’ rule about technology that “anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.” (Adams, 2002) However, I realize that teacher-librarians need to reinvent themselves in this era of information abundance, as we are no longer its keepers. I am not sure what I will find for resources about digital technology and visual literacy because I am not sure what is out there. I have investigated sites like Animoto, Prezi, Glogster, Popplet etc., but only in terms of offering ways for students to express their learning visually, not to specifically teach visual literacy.


Depending on my initial searches with the keywords visual literacy I may also search digital literacy and media literacy, as visual literacy is important in these literacies as well. Since I am trying to find resources to help teach visual literacy I will also include keywords like teaching, education, in the classroom, and lesson plans. Hopefully I will find some great ideas about using digital technologies that not only help visual learners, but ones that can be used to teach all students visual literacy.





Adams, D. (2002) The Salmon of Doubt. New York: Ballantine Books.



“I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

  1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
  2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
  3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

– Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

(Found at goodreads)





Filed under LIBE 477

4 responses to “Reading Review: Visual Literacy

  1. Fantastic first post! I think you did a great job brainstorming and reflecting on what you are most interested in and why. Fantastic work quoting Douglas Adams as well, I really can appreciate the quote “anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.” A well done post and a great start to the class!

  2. Hi Karen,
    Looks like we already took a class together:) I liked your Adam’s quote at the bottom. It goes well with my blog post, I may have to use it on certain staff members. It seems like we’re the opposites. I usually spend quite a bit of time developing the visual aspects of my lesson, as that’s how I like to learn. I always think that students who learn visually best are just about everyone….I might have to rethink that!

  3. That is an interesting way of looking at things, against the natural order! I hope you find lots of good stuff on incorporating visual literacy in your teaching.

  4. djthind

    I like your visual 🙂 My eye immediately went to your cartoon graphic in the RSS feed preview. As a visual learner, I appreciated reading from another perspective on this topic! All the best on your educational exploration.

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