The Diving Tower

story by A P Byatt , illustrated by David Legge

Learning intention:  

I am learning to identify how imagery builds emotional connection and engagement so that I can include emotionally engaging imagery that results in readers connecting with my work in my own writing.  

Success criteria:  

  • I can identify examples of imagery in a story.  
  • I can discuss how imagery impacts readers’ emotional connection and engagement with a story.  
  • I can experiment with composing examples of imagery.  
  • I can include imagery in a descriptive paragraph.   


Essential knowledge: 

Ensure students are aware that imagery means the ability of language to conjure up visual images, through evoking the senses. 


Learning resource: 

Read The Diving Tower, up to the end of page 20. Those with a digital subscription may prefer to listen to the audio file of the beginning of the story.  

Discuss examples of language in The Diving Tower, that assist students with forming a clear picture of summer in their minds. Sample responses include:  

Summer was the flavour of Zooper Doopers and watermelon and fairy bread and red cordial from the jug in the fridge. (Senses evoked are smell and taste of the different types of food) 

It was a sunburnt nose and shoulders each time he went to the pool, no matter how much sunscreen he put on. (Senses evoked, sight of the sunburn and touch for how it feels) 

He loved the coolness of the water when he plunged into the shallow end of the Olympic-size swimming pool. (Senses evoked, touch through the coolness of the water and sight, through the description of the pool) 

Discuss the senses evoked by each example. Note these next to each example. These can be noted using a visual code, for example a sketch of an eye for visual, an image of an ear for hearing, a tongue for taste, a hand for touch and a nose for smell. Sample responses have been provided alongside the examples above.  

Provide students with paper and instruct them to sketch a quick drawing of summer as it is described in the story. Students can add labels to their sketches in they wish. For example, they might sketch a hot sun, above a swimming pool and a child sitting on the side eating a Zooper Dooper with a bottle of sunscreen beside them. 

Engage students in a discussion about which examples of imagery they relate to and that also remind them of summer. Provide examples such as sunburnt skin and the smell of watermelon. Reflect on how the inclusion of imagery students relate to impacts their enjoyment and engagement with the story. Most likely students will conclude reading imagery that they relate to causes them to be engaged readers.  

Read the remainder of the story. Place students in pairs or small groups and instruct them to identify further examples of imagery before noting which of the senses each example evokes. Sample responses include: 

Their squeals sounded excited to Zeke, but it made his hands all sweaty, and his stomach felt like a washing machine on full cycle. (Senses evoked, sound of the squeals and touch of the sweaty hands and spinning stomach) 

… while he looked at the dripping wet feet of the person in the line above him (sense evoked, sight of the dripping wet feet) 

Discuss students' responses.  

Inform students that they will be experimenting with composing their own examples of evocative imagery. 

Discuss features that come to mind when students think of their school. For ideas, students may like to go on a brief walk around the school. Ideas include:  

  • the smell of toasted bread coming from the canteen 
  • the thwack of handballs on the asphalt 
  • the taste of cheese sandwiches 
  • the crunch of chip packets 
  • the fresh paper smell of new books 

Discuss how the first of these ideas could be brought to life through evocative imagery. For example:  

The yeasty smell coming from the canteen of bread toasting, a slight nutty edge to its scent, reveals it is about to burn.  

The thwacking sound of handballs bouncing on asphalt, mingling with the excited squeals of players as they race for the balls, rings in my ears as I approach the playground. 

Place students in pairs. Instruct them to select one of the ideas of what school means to them and compose an evocative example of imagery.  

Allow time for students to construct their imagery. Share responses. Collaboratively select two or three of the examples, to include in a brief paragraph describing the school. A sample response is: 

I wander around school, the nerves of a new day making butterflies squabble for space inside my stomach. As I skulk through the playground, keen to avoid too much attention, the yeasty smell of bread toasting floats from the canteen. It has a slight nutty edge to its scent, that reveals it was about to burn. My belly rumbles and I realise I have not eaten anything since crunch and sip. I will need to find a shady spot to eat my lunch. I search for a place to sit and accidentally find myself in the middle of a handball game. The thwacking sound of handballs bouncing on asphalt mingles with the excited squeals of players as they race for the balls. The sound rings in my ears and I search desperately for a friendly face. Spying a friend, I retreat under the cool umbrella of a shady tree and eat my slightly sweaty cheese sandwiches, the bread sticking to the roof of my mouth as I eat.  

Instruct students to work with their partner to compose a paragraph that features multiple examples of evocative imagery about school.  

Allow time for students to compose their paragraphs before sharing them with another group. Once each group has shared their paragraphs, instruct the students to identify examples of imagery that they relate to in the paragraphs their peers have composed.  

Complete an exit slip, outlining students’ thoughts on the best way to engage readers through the use of imagery. Students should aim to conclude that featuring relatable imagery engages readers.  


Instruct students to refer to a text they have constructed previously and use what they have learnt to add in examples of evocative imagery. Alternatively, students could select a text from this issue of Touchdown and add their own examples of imagery to the text.