Why is close reading important?
Close reading is the practice of reading a text more than once, in order to more deeply comprehend it. In recent years, it has become a critical part of classroom literacy instruction. Close reading is important because it boosts comprehension. The practice of reading a text over again gives students the tools they need to make meaning from a text that they may not understand on the first try.
As an adult, you likely already participate in close reading to an extent. If you read part of a text, and you do not fully understand what you read, you will go back and re-read it. Teaching students the practice of close reading simply guides them through rereading a text to make meaning from it. Often, each read has a focus, so students are only thinking about one skill at a time. Fostering the habit of rereading for understanding, and pulling out new information each time you read, is a great way to ensure reading growth in your students.
Plan your close reading lesson
When you plan a close reading lesson for your students, there are several elements you need to consider. First, decide on the text that you will use. The text should be at or slightly above your students’ reading level, and cover a topic that your students are familiar with. Plan to front-load any unfamiliar concepts, but avoid texts that your students will not be able to connect with. It should also be complex enough that it provides evidence of reading skills. It is important to strike the balance between accessibility and complexity. A close read is most successful when students can understand most of the text easily. This frees up their prefrontal cortex while they are reading to think about the skills they should be pulling from the text! If they are busy trying to make meaning of individual vocabulary words, or concepts, it will be tough to see the big picture of a text and identify a skill.
Second, after choosing the text, decide the goal of each read. You may have chosen a text that had strong evidence of one skill (e.g. problem and solution). So, the ultimate goal of the close reading process may be to get students to see the problem and solution in the text. For each individual read you plan to do, set a smaller goal that aids students in finding the skill in the text.
Finally, consider what activities you will have students do to cement their learning after each read. Use graphic organizers, comprehension questions, etc. to deepen student understanding during each phase of reading.
how to close read
- Begin by introducing the text to your students. In the primary grades, you will be reading the book aloud for each of the readings.
- Complete the first read. The goal of the first read should be centered around the key ideas and general understanding of the story. Complete the first reading with a series of comprehension questions. In my Close Reading Pack, I have close reading questions that you can pair with any text.
- Preferably on a different day, complete the second reading. Establish the goal with your students before reading. The second read should be centered around the craft and structure of the text. Ask guiding questions, and complete graphic organizers that get students thinking about the author’s word choice, the organization of the text, etc.
- It’s time for the final read! I recommend doing this over a series of three days to make the most of each reading. For the third reading, students are digging a little deeper by applying their understanding of different skills to the text. Similarly to the second read, take the time to establish the goal, read the text, and guide students in finding evidence of skills through questions and comprehension activities.
Close Reading Materials
You can grab my Close Reading Pack to use with any text that you want to conduct a lesson with! This resource pack comes with a lesson plan template, student reference posters, graphic organizers, and close reading questions. Everything you need to teach any close reading lesson is included! You can also read more about close reading in the classroom by clicking HERE.