Photo of Poetry and Illustration from Constance Vidor

Poetry and Illustration from Constance Vidor

By Constance Vidor


The Poetry and Illustration VoiceThread shows how illustration can be used to interpret and illuminate poetry written for young readers. It begins by showing illustrations by two different illustrators of Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat. The narration points out some contrasting ways in which each illustrator has responded to the poem. The VoiceThread then asks its audience to look at and respond to illustrations for poems from John Updikes’s collection, A Calendar for Children. This VoiceThread could be used with students from 4th grade through college level in English, Art, or Information Literacy, or Media Literacy studies.


I searched for examples of highly contrasting approaches to poems by illustrators. I was especially interested in finding illustrators whose work suggested different moods or who extended the poem’s “story” through details in the illustration. The first part of the VoiceThread is a mini-lecture; the second part asks the audience to try out some analysis for themselves by posting comments in answer to questions about each illustration.


Goal: To demonstrate some ways in which illustration can interpret or illuminate a poem and to show how illustration can affect the total experience of a poem for a young reader.

Easy Parts

As usual, with VoiceThread, the easiest part was uploading the images and arranging the slides.


The most challenging part of creating this VoiceThread was to write a concise, informative and substantive narration.


I used a hand-held digital audio recorder to record my comments, then uploaded them onto VoiceThread because my laptop’s fan made an annoying buzzing sound in the background when I tried to record my comments directly into VoiceThread.


Time spent writing and re-writing an effective narration is well spent.


This VoiceThread could be used as a preparation for having students create their own illustrations for poems.