Using AI Art for Visualization in Reading/Literature Lessons


Using AI Art for Visualization in Reading/Literature Lessons

Often teachers will encourage students to “make a picture or movie in your head” as they are reading or listening to a story. Recently, I have been exploring how using an AI art generator could be another effective strategy to assist students as they learn to visualize text.  Here are some ideas and strategies that I have been trying:

Prompts using Copy/Paste from Text

A good way to start using AI to help students visualize text is to copy/paste or type a section of text into an AI art generator and see what kind of image the AI creates from it. I recently saw Carl Hooker doing “#KarAIoke” on social media, where he typed in song lyrics and had people guess what they were. Here is my try - can you guess the song? This would be a great warm up activity for a class. (Sorry, I realized later that my example related primarily to readers from the USA and probably was not the best option.)

America the Beautiful: O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain!

The copy/paste strategy could be used for a description of a scene or a character.  Here is an example of Daisy Buchanan from the Great Gatsby:  

Daisy was young and her artificial world was redolent of orchids and pleasant, cheerful snobbery and orchestras which set the

This also would work with poetry. Here is an example from Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening:

Whose woods these are I think I know.    His house is in the village though;    He will not see me stopping here    To watch
Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow.

Writing Prompts to Visualize Text

You can take the lesson deeper by first reading some text and then building your own image prompt based on your understanding of what you read. This could be done by individuals or by the class working together, adding ideas to the prompt and regenerating if the created image is not quite right. Here are some suggestions for using this strategy:

  • Generate an image of a character. Enhance the image by adding a style that reflects the time period or the personality of the character. Turn the character into a Pixar style 3D character or a statue. You could also create a “character map sheet” that contains the character and items that relate to the character in the story. 
    AI generated images Pippi Longstocking
  • Generate a visual of story or play setting. After each generation, add details to clarify the image. Use “3d Isometric render miniature diorama” to create a striking overhead visual. You could also create an “overhead map, top view” or a “Minecraft” or “pixel” view of the setting. 
  • Generate a scene from the story, explaining the main action of the character in a location and any important objects that are part of the plot. Enhance the image by turning it into a painting, watercolor, cartoon, paper cutout, a quilt, or a tapestry. (This would be a great "exit ticket" to share a summary of a chapter.)

Creating Book Covers

Creating a book cover using AI art is a great way to synthesize the main concepts of a piece of literature. Ideogram or Bing Image Creator do a fairly good job of adding text, although you may have regenerate the prompt several times to get it spelled right! Another way to do this would be using Canva to create the AI  images and then add the text directly in there. You could also copy/paste an image into Pages or Keynote and then add the text. 

book cover saying Welcome to Narnia, with a view through a door of snowy mountains and a castle

Visualizing Abstract Ideas

It could be interesting to use AI art generators to visualize idioms and figures of speech! Students could show both the literal and actual meaning of a saying. 

I also think AI art can be helpful to deepen understanding of abstract terms. I liked an idea that I saw from Brent Warner where he generated a “grid of 4 four images connected to the idea of ___________.” Often the AI will come up with unique and thought provoking ways to illustrate a concept. (Note: I found Bing Image Creator worked best for working with these kinds of abstract concepts and creating a grid.)

Call to Action

I hope these ideas have inspired you to think of some ways that AI art generators could help your students to better visualize the things they are reading in class. If so, please share in your ideas in the comments. I’d also love to hear any ways that you have been using AI art to help you and your students do some visualize text and ideas!  (FYI Coming Soon! - I am working on another post on how to use AI art generators to enhance writing in the classroom!)

One Best Thing:

This post is a part of my One Best Thing Project "AI Art for Inspiration, Creativity, and Learning." I am collecting my AI Art project ideas and resources at this website:

All Replies

Posted on February 05, 2024

What an awesome post Karen! A creative idea that any discipline could use. I really like the song lyric idea - I'm going to try that as a warm up with my audio production class!

Posted on February 05, 2024

Thanks so much, Dave. Let me know how it goes!

Posted on March 12, 2024

This is incredible, Karen! Thanks for sharing!

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