What is Close Reading?

Read to find out what close reading is and how to implement it in your classroom.
As you know, I am a big fan of close reading. I think close reading engages students so much more than traditional types of reading instruction. And it's not something that you need a special product to incorporate.

What is close reading?
Close reading is when a text is read for a specific purpose. Whether you're asking students to make connections, cite text evidence, or figure out a meaning of a word, close reading is very flexible. It is NOT simply asking students to read the same text over and over again for no apparent reason. If you do that, the students will hate it.

What is a good text for close reading?
Anything! But I try to create or find something short (or something larger broken into parts) and high-interest. If you do use something from your basal, it is my recommendation that you make copies of the part you want to focus on. I try to get 2 pages to a side and copy them front-to-back to save on paper.

What do you do on the first read?
I have my students either read it independently or I slowly read it aloud. In either case, students are responding to the text and making connections by writing on the paper using these symbols:

After a few paragraphs or the whole text (depending on length), I give students a few minutes to share with a partner.

What about second and third reads?
This is usually a targeted skill, such as finding text evidence to answer a question, transition words, similes, pretty much whatever you are studying. ALWAYS have students highlight, underline, or otherwise mark the text to find these things. They love doing it, and it helps to make the activity more interactive. This is also a great opportunity to discuss how to highlight, ie. just doing a few words as opposed to entire paragraphs.

Anything else?
I usually wrap it up with a short writing prompt, maybe just a paragraph or two. I ask some sort of question related to the topic, usually some sort of connection that they can pull from their own experiences. Another idea is to ask a question that requires them to think deeper about an idea or why something is.

Those are pretty much the basics!

If you need some resources to get you started, check out my {close reading freebies}!


  1. Wonderful clarification! I use your close reading freebies in speech-language therapy. Thank you!

  2. I love reading posts about close reading and discovering others' interpretations, tips and tricks. We also wrap up with a writing prompt - usually an opinion prompt for us - to allow for reflection on our purpose for reading. Thanks for the great freebies!!!

    Wild About Fifth

  3. Thank you for the freebies. We have not done any close reading this year yet and it is time to start! Thank you!

  4. I am such a huge fan of close reading and I try to get my colleagues on board! I will be sending them to your post in hopes that they see what we see! Thanks so much!!!

    Faithful in First

  5. Thanks for a very clear explanation! I may have to send my parents to read this... :)

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

  6. This was a wonderful post, thank you so much!!

  7. Great post Diane! I love using Close Reads including use in my content area subjects. I pinned it for you and for my later reference. ;)
    Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans

  8. Great info! I am planning to use many of your Close Reading packets in my classroom after break!

    Sara :)
    The Colorful Apple

  9. Clear and straight to the point! Great to use as a guide for close reading. Thank you for sharing :)

  10. Thank you. Your post demystifies close reading and makes it accessible to teachers who either may be complicating the process or haven't yet tried close reading in the classroom.


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