What does this sentence/phrase mean?

As they grow older, many children turn aside from books without pictures, and it is a situation made more serious as our culture becomes more visual.

Does this mean:

  • many children turn to books without pictures?


  • many children turn to books with pictures?
  • I think "without pictures" modifies "books". I read the sentence as: Many children /turn aside from/ books without pictures. "turn aside from" can be found in dictionaries.
    – dan
    Nov 16, 2019 at 15:01
  • Does it mean the children move away from book without pictures?
    – John Arvin
    Nov 16, 2019 at 16:11

3 Answers 3


"Turn aside" literally means to turn your head (or body) to one side, so as to either look away from something, or perhaps to face a new direction to look at something. "Turn aside from" something specifically means to look away from it.

In a wider, figurative context, "turn aside from" can mean to abandon something, for example a course of action, either due to lack of interest or because of a change of heart, eg "he turned aside from his former ways".

In your specific example, it seems to imply that children may lose interest in books without pictures, although this may perhaps mean they literally look away.


Like you said in your comment, it does mean the children move away from books without pictures.

The preposition should help you. "From" indicates a starting point, a source. So if they're moving away from books (or "turning aside from"), it means they stop reading those books (or don't want to). "To" indicates direction, so it's directed to books, they're probably moving towards them (figuratively, so reading them more).

So even if you don't understand the expression, looking at the prepositions should give you a rough understanding of the sentence.

Here, "to turn aside from smth" means "to turn away from smth", which is the exact opposite of "to turn to smth"


Does this mean: many children turn to books without pictures? Or many children turn to books with pictures?

What the original sentence means is that many children don't like books without pictures - this means many children like books with pictures (e.g., comics). As children grow older, they lose interest in books without pictures.

Note that "turn to" is a phrasal verb meaning "to go to someone or something to get help with a difficult situation" (Cambridge)

"Turn aside" is a phrase.

From The Free Dictionary

1.To deflect something; to direct or divert something away. A noun or pronoun can be used between "turn" and "aside."

  • Special shielding on the space shuttle's windows turns harmful solar radiation aside to protect the astronauts inside.
  • The president turned aside questions about his involvement with the company and changed the subject to matters of foreign policy.

3.To reject or dismiss something.

  • They turned aside my entreaties to reverse their decision.
  • Unfortunately, we've had to turn a number of applications aside because the applicants did not follow the instructions correctly.

While no. 3 seems very relevant, it has an implied sense of "deciding" that something is "not important and not worth considering." Children are simple - they just don't like books without pictures (I don't think they make a conscious decision that those books are not important). You can of course say that "children reject books without pictures" - that seems to be very direct though (e.g., after skimming a few pages for pictures, a child throws away the book realizing there are no pictures and starts to throw a tantrum).

4.To divert someone or cause someone to deviate from some activity, course, or direction.

  • Having kids turned me aside from my ambitions as a writer, but I don't feel any regrets about it.
  • Don't let the promise of power or wealth turn you aside from your moral compass.

Also "turn something aside" is "to evade something."

  • Ann turned the awkward questions aside.

  • She turned aside the questions she didn't want to answer.

For your case, I think no. 4 fits best.

The absence of pictures in books turns children aside from reading them.

It simply means that children don't like to read books without pictures. They lose interest quickly (if they have already started reading them) and tend to avoid them as they grow older.

  • 2
    It doesn't actually say anything about books with pictures, only that children dislike books without them. You could understand this to mean that children prefer picture books. However, it also mentions children as they grow older. Books written for older children are less likely to contain illustrations, so it could mean that the children are losing interest in reading altogether. Nov 21, 2019 at 16:05
  • @KateBunting Yes, I edited that part in OP's question, the "grow older" part wasn't there before when I wrote the answer - I simply forgot to edit my answer. Thanks!
    – AIQ
    Nov 21, 2019 at 21:09

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