When I read books to my preschoolers and to kindergarten art classes I
sometimes read it without showing the pictures, asking them to make their
own pictures in their minds. After they drew we looked at the book again
to see how the illustrator had done it Other times we look at the pictures
and create the words! Depends on the book----.
But it should also be remembered that children (and adults) vary greatly in
the kind and vividness of their visualization. I'm more kinaesthetic than
visual, and both of those more strongly than aural. Some children can do
this with pictures on a "screen" in their mind; others need to do it with
actual drawing or even whole-body movement (dance).
And yes, this visualization skill is absolutely critical for learning to
_love_ to read as well.