Illustrations with Purpose

Today, the following question was posed in class: “are there any books/poems that should never be illustrated?”

The following were our answers to the question: “The Bible, an encyclopedia, the dictionary.”

Alas, after class I googled illustrated versions of all those things…

The Bible



Well, turns out not everyone agrees that The Bible, encyclopedias, and dictionaries should not be illustrated. Though we all thought that these books totalities could not be summed in covers, which I still agree with, I did not consider how interior illustrations could be beneficial. Disabled persons, children, and senior citizens all benefit from having these sources of knowledge illustrated. Readers associate the word “bear” with the big, fluffy, black animal on the page, or better understand what Bible verses mean by analyzing the illustrations… these pictures help people learn. Though the illustrations are not like the Dali’s or Dorè’s of the world, they still serve an important role in teaching others crucial knowledge.

One Reply to “Illustrations with Purpose”

  1. Darby,

    I’m happy to see that someone actually went online to look up images for our class’s ideas of texts that could not be illustrated.

    I totally agree with you that images can serve as an educational tool. My favorite dictionary growing up was one filled with photographs (I actually think its the very one you have featured here). I also remember my first bible being one with colorful illustrations of cartoon figures.

    I thin you’ll be able to find illustrations for every book out there (maybe even for Mein Kampf – which would be absolutely horrible and I hope I’m wrong there) but these educational images can be considered true artistic companions. These images do not make us question the text nor do they give us a new interpretation of the written words. Does this make the images any less enjoyable? No. But I don’t think we can see these images as artistic triumphs.


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