Going Deep with Award Winning Books:
Close reading and text-dependent questions

What is Close Reading?

Close reading asks students to engage in multiple readings of a text over a number of sessions.  Multiple readings are intended to help students find out what the text says, how it says it, and what it means. Typically the purpose for each session is different.  A close reading of a text is accompanied by rich discussion, and with older students it often culminates in a written task.  Close reading involves choosing short, high-quality texts that allow for vocabulary learning, the examination of text structure and author’s purpose, making inferences, and other forms of interpretation and analysis.  “Texts” may include poems, newspaper or magazine articles, excerpts from larger works, speeches, videos, and other digital texts.  There is minimal frontloading of background knowledge on the part of the teacher.  The idea is for students to “read like detectives” and grapple with new vocabulary, unusual syntax, implicit meanings, point of view, mood or tone, etc. on their own before the teacher intervenes. 

Close reading is not a new technique or strategy.  For years, many middle and high school teachers have been asking students to read texts, annotate and record their thinking about the text, and respond in writing to it.  For elementary teachers, however, teaching this type of deep reading may be new.   Authors of the standards acknowledge that in the early elementary grades, close reading will likely happen during interactive read-alouds, with a great deal of modeling, because students may not be able to independently read texts of sufficient complexity at first, and they will need to learn the process and protocols for reading, note-taking, and discussion.  The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project has some excellent videos that you can turn to for help and ideas.   View a K-2 sample close reading lesson using informational text here, and one appropriate for grades 3-5 here .



IntroductionClose ReadingText-dependent questions Tips & guidelines
Close Reading In Action
For Younger ElementaryFor Middle & Upper ElementaryResources