A Close Reading Guide: Importance & Strategies

With close reading, students can understand the purpose of reading a text.

What Is Close Reading?

Close reading is utilized in the education system to analyze and apply textual interpretation. It focuses on analyzing text to understand its content and how the text developed over time.

The method of interpretation focuses on the text’s focal point and structure. One does not simply read a text looking for its key points but examines it to gain some deeper meaning from the text. This process is done with a close range of focus.

This is important not only in English literature classes but also in any liberal arts class. Students can tap into their intuitions about what a text says and does in terms of its context.

What Is the Purpose of Close Reading?

Readers use this process to analyze a text’s structure, language, and message. It can be used to teach comprehension skills and offer opportunities to explore controversial issues or cultural topics.

It is a critical process and ability that can help with comprehension, writing, and research. This type of reading involves intense and detailed reading, culminating in a non-fiction text. It can be used to deepen and broaden thinking, inspire critical inquiry, and highlight specific points in a text.

Moreover, It is essential for both literary analysis and personal development. It helps you see what others have said about a text, see your prejudices, and see things you may otherwise miss.

Why Is This Technique Important?

It allows a person to use textual clues to appreciate the writer’s thinking, themes, and overall message of their work. It increases the familiarity with the author’s particular voice and style.

Close readers analyze literary or rhetorical properties and aesthetic elements of a text. It allows them to identify and extract main ideas, infer meaning, and feel comfortable with the text.

It is a form of careful literary criticism to synthesize and understand how to make the most out of a text. This process gives insights into how texts function and how the author wanted the reader to react or think about it.

An open book placed on a low pile carpet
Photo by Haley Parson on Unsplash

Strategies for Close Reading in a Classroom

When you engage in close reading, you are reading a text in a disciplined manner, with great intent. You need to look for meaning and realize what a particular text is telling you.

Different approaches to shared close reading are implemented in the classroom to encourage discussion and prompt students to consider the text carefully. It’s highly recommended that teachers model the steps of this process for teaching the students how to analyze a text. To teach students the true mastery of this technique, it requires consistent effort and practice.

The following 6-step strategy will help students learn at a faster rate:

1. Read for Surface Level Understanding

Students are asked to begin by reading through the passage independently for a surface-level understanding. Generally speaking, this is intended to establish what the text is about. It requires the student to only have a shallow idea of the key elements in the text without going into the logic.

2. Annotate the Text Around Key Questions.

Students add marks, notes, comments, and observations to find the meaning of the text. It includes identifying the common patterns, contradictions, and similarities and marking the strong words and phrases. This is one of the best ways of active reading to create a connection between the student and the text they are reading. Students are encouraged to take note of the important thoughts and ideas.

3. Identify the Main Idea With a Second Reading.

The teachers read the same text aloud this time to establish a textual framework. They break down the text looking for explanations, connections, and analogies within the text to derive the main idea. Teachers often show a passage on a projector to model their version of annotation and then have the students work on it again.

4. Explore the Unfamiliar Words and Terminologies.

Students then explore the passage for new vocabulary and understand the meaning. They identify unfamiliar words, synonyms, and antonyms to work around the meaning of the information in the passage. They also use the words in different sentences to understand their contextual usage better.

5. Gain a Deeper Comprehension of the Text.

After students have read through the passage twice and annotated it, the next step is to develop a profound understanding. It involves looking for different perspectives, asking questions, identifying main arguments, and making a logical inference.

6. Support Answer With Text Evidence.

In the end, the students are asked to answer the higher-order questions to push the limit of reading. This involves supporting answers with textual evidence and reasons and responding to questions through writing. It requires the students to write quality thesis statements and a well-developed text summary.

Wrapping Up

Close reading is the process of using one’s reading skills to fully understand a text. It can be done both in school and outside of school.

It helps one make sense of anything they read, no matter how difficult it is. You can analyze the text, identify what it means, and find ways to apply it to your life.

Students are guided through closed reading strategies in the classroom to help them grasp the central idea of a text. As a result, they can comprehend the underlying meaning of challenging texts and become more career-ready for the future.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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