Visual Storytelling: Talking Pictures

Teresa Strohl, Visual Art, Barringer Academic Center

Final Unit (PDF)  Implementing Common Core Standards (PDF)


This curriculum unit explores how visuals in picture books tell a story. I will
focus on two artists, Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden, who lived parallel lives in
Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. I chose these artists due to fact that Bearden
comes from the Charlotte area and that both lived transient lifestyles similar to many of
my students. Lawrence and Bearden moved frequently similar to my economically
disadvantaged students. I want to demonstrate that both artists were artists first and
illustrators second. I will introduce two books, The Great Migration by Jacob Lawrence
and Li’l Dan the Drummer Boy: A Civil War Story by Romare Bearden. The Great
Migration came from a narrative series of paintings called “Migration Series” (1940-
1941). Li’l Dan the Drummer Boy: A Civil War Story was created over decades and
published after Bearden’s death.
Students will realize the importance of visual clues in art, picture books, and social
media. Visual images open up imagination and communicate a message. Most visuals are
purposefully put together to generate a mood, feeling, or communicate a message.