Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Illustration Design And Beginning Readers Attention Allocation And

Many children struggle to acquire the fundamental skill of learning to read. Suboptimal
book designs may contribute to the difficulties beginning readers experience, as
extraneous details in illustrations could promote attentional competition and hamper
emerging literacy skills. This within-subjects study utilized eyetracking technology while
8-year-olds read a commercially available storybook, and another condition in which
extraneous details in the illustrations were eliminated. Story comprehension was
assessed after reading each condition. Our findings suggest that excluding extraneous
details in illustrations benefit children’s comprehension, and this design was especially
useful for children who shifted their gaze between text and illustrations more often.
Although seductive features in pictures are entertaining—if they are irrelevant to the
story’s text—they may interfere with learning for beginning readers. This study aims to
provide theoretical insights about design principles for reading materials that can be
employed to optimize instructional materials and promote literacy development in

Eng, Cassondra
Boyle, Kristen
Fisher, Anna
DC, Psychology