Close reading is purposefully reading a text while paying attention to the author’s word choice, sentence structure, and layers of meaning. It also involves reading the same text multiple times, each time studying a different aspect in order to analyze techniques the author used to communicate a point. But did you know close reading is not just academic? We actually conduct close readings in our everyday lives. Any time you read, you basically look at the text from three different ways:
(1) Establish a lens (what you are looking for in the text). Looking at the textual evidence, the word choice, the structure, and the figurative language.
(2) Notice the patterns.
(3) Decide the big idea the author is trying to convey.
So what does this have to do with our daily lives outside of academics? Well, we stop to look at or question the choices we make every day.
According to Kate Roberts, author of Falling in Love with Close Reading, close reading is a way of being. It is reading, watching television, and listening to music.
We read our moments closely. We read our lives closely: What did I say? What did I do? When was I not patient? What exactly did I say in that meeting? What should I have said? Maybe I could make some changes… (2013)
Notice the critical thinking questions we ask ourselves?
Students question things in their daily lives as well. They question their TV shows, music, food, or even video games. We want them to question the things they are reading too.
Using text‑dependent questions is a great way to get students to question and closely read complex texts. Text‑dependent questions prompt readers to use the actual text to respond. They compel students to examine and analyze the author’s work at sophisticated levels in order to decipher surface and hidden meanings.
Some educators consider close reading an instructional strategy. Others see it as a goal. Either way, students need to develop close reading in an academic setting.
Close reading helps students analyze and synthesize complex and rigorous texts for deeper meaning and understanding. We have to teach kids to make careful observations of things and then develop their interpretations from these observations. This can happen in their daily lives and in the complex texts they read.