Close Reading FYI

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Oct. 20, 2015, 4:24 p.m.

1. What is Close Reading?

Close reading is the act of careful, purposeful, repeated reading to glean facts, details, and information to construct deep meaning. Readers reread (numerous times) the text to focus on understanding the author's message. Each reading helps the reader decipher the main points of the text by analyzing author's craft such as text structure, literacy elements, rhetorical devices, and word choice. Use of genre knowledge is particularly crucial during close reading. Readers use their expectations of the text genre to predict, ask questions, summarize, make inferences and connections.


2. What texts should be used for Close Reading?

Texts should be brief due to the amount of critical thinking required to comprehend deeply. Select texts with that range from three paragraphs to three pages. You may also consider using an excerpt from novels. The texts should be sufficiently complex and require students to use reading strategies to process the information. Students need to be very focused on one or two points such as author's perspective, word choice, text structure, or use of literacy elements. This creates a need to read and comprehend at deeper and deeper levels each time they encounter the text.


3. What questions should be used while Close Reading?

Students should be asking:

  • What is the text about?
  • What does the author want me to understand?
  • How does the author organize text?
  • What words does the author use?
  • Are there any hard words or words seem particularly important?
  • How does the author play with language in order to create meaning or make points?
  • How is the text similar or different to other texts?


The ability to read closely is a life skill, not just a test skill. While it's not the only type of reading we do, having strategies to analyze an author's literal and inferential meaning is required to be college and career ready.

Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

About The Authors

Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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