Every Picture Tells a Story

play by David Hill , illustrated by Aśka

Learning intention

I am learning to recognise the way authors create mystery and misconceptions around characters through their life experiences consider people as a whole when working on characterisation.


Success criteria

  • I can identify reasons for misunderstandings between characters
  • I can identify the way characters’ experiences are used in shaping them
  • I can find ways to represent my own life in a way that relates to the character in the text.


Essential knowledge

Information about the way personalities and experiences are important when developing characters can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Character.


Prior to reading the play, discuss the meaning of the title and ask students how it’s possible for a picture to tell a story if it has no words. Go through each picture of the play one at a time and ask students what story they think each picture is telling. Discuss the use of aspects such as facial expressions and actions of characters as clues.

Assign roles and read through the play together and reflect on any correct answers about the pictures prior to reading. Ask students what they think the title refers to now that they have read the play (the stories behind the tough guy’s tattoos). Discuss the misconceptions from the kids in the play about the tough guy character and what each of his tattoos meant.

Remind students of each tattoo and ask them to recall the meaning behind them. If you have a digital subscription, this can be completed as an interactive activity:

  • Skull and crossbones – His dad read him pirate stories when he was little
  • Dagger dripping blood -His mum keeps reminding him to cut his toast carefully
  • K-I-L-L – Stands for Kisses In Large Lots from his grandma.
  • Snake – His pet worm, Willie
  • Zombie with fangs and weird eyes – His girlfriend, Flossie
  • Kitten – His Tiger, Tiddles

Ask students if they know any grown-ups with tattoos and if they know the meaning behind any of them. Discuss the reasons people may make their choice of tattoos. These may include:

  • Cultural significance
  • Family crests or names
  • Significant dates
  • Favourite things (sports, TV shows, books, places they have visited)
  • Meaningful quotes
  • Camaraderie (participation in military service, sports teams, theatrical productions)
  • Appreciation of a particular design or picture

Inform students they will be creating their own design page to tell their own story through pictures. It does not need to be organized or sequenced in any way; it is simply intended to be a collection of designs that represent them in some way. Watch the video Representation - The School Magazine - The School Magazine and discuss how students will have different ways to represent their ideas. Explain to students that they should use symbolism to represent their ideas and ask for a few examples of things that are significant to them. Use these examples to demonstrate the use of symbolism. Using a blank piece of paper, students should draw different things that are meaningful to them.