Take note, young readers need close reading too! More than anything they need reading strategies to build comprehension. Close reading for elementary students is
- thinking about the text,
- critical analysis of a text,
- focusing on details that repeat,
- finding patterns in the text, and
- raising questions about the text.
Close reading allows elementary students to develop a deep and detailed understanding of the text.
Basic Close Reading Strategies
Have you noticed young readers who open a book a read from page 1 to the end? That's what most young readers do. They don't realize reading is a process that involves many strategies.
Close reading is the idea that students should use text dependent strategies during reading. Your students will need your help in learning these strategies. Here's a great set of reading strategies to start developing closer reading in elementary students.
Notice and Note
Use these questions to help students notice details in the text. Help them take note of their thinking while they read.
- What patterns do you notice?
- Informational: What ideas keep repeating?
- Informational: What similar details have you read more than once or twice?
- Literary: What events or conflicts are repeating for a character?
- Literary: How is this dialogue similar to previous conversations for a character?
- What words or phrases do you need to reread to clarify the meaning?
- How did the author organize this text?
Analyzing the Text Evidence
Close reading requires stepping back from the text and analyzing it as a whole. Great readers do this all the time, almost naturally. Elementary students may not even know this strategy exists. That's why you should teach it.
A few key questions can help elementary students analyze the text. Use these questions to prompt thinking about organization and purpose.
1. Organization of Text
- - What features are in this text (headings, table of contents, chapters)?
- - How do the text features help to organize the meaning in the text?
- - How does the author sequence the paragraphs?
There are some basic organizational patterns that students can look for.
- - Do the paragraphs compare or contrast different ideas or details?
- - Do the chapters tell a story with a plot structure?
- - Is there a problem presented with solutions (nonfiction)?
- - Do characters experience events that cause changes (fiction)?
2. Author's Purpose
This is so much more than just a type of question on a test. Analyzing the author's purpose allows students to read closer and find deeper meaning.
- - Usually, what is the purpose of this genre of text?
- - Why did the author put the events in this order?
- - Why did the author put the ideas in this sequence?
- - What other ways could the author present this and still achieve the same purpose?
- - Why did the author choose these words?
- - How does this phrasing achieve the author's purpose?
You can see how these types of question require close reading. Students will strategically reread texts when they think about these questions. They will hunt for textual evidence and use close reading to find meaning within the text.
It's not far from the reach of elementary students to read texts closely, to note and notice, and think deeply about text. A little teaching is all that is required. A little practice and close reading is a powerful strategy to enhance reading comprehension in elementary students!
I also recommend you tap to read a previous post on 4 guided reading strategies that can enhance close reading and reading comprehension.