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Closing In On “Close Reading”

reading photoIf you haven’t heard this latest buzz phrase, you will soon. Standardized tests and schools alike are shifting their focus towards cultivating not just more reading, but reading that is deep, thoughtful, purposeful…close reading.

This is good news, because close reading is one of the skills that well-prepared, informed, mentally active and employable adults need in order to thrive in our increasingly complex and sophisticated world.

However, close reading is a very different activity from reading a novel while lying on the sofa or flipping through the latest online celebrity news. Unlike recreational reading, close reading requires sustained concentration, active engagement with the text, and mental discipline…exactly the habits of mind which our device-addicted, social-media-marinated kids tend most sorely to lack.

So, welcome to the uphill battle of training our students into close reading!

The following Close Reading Checklist will give you a sense of what is required. Notice that readers are asked to cover material not once, but three times!!…and to reflect carefully during and after each reading.

First Read: Get the Gist

  • What’s the main idea?
  • Can you summarize the text?
  • What jumps out at you?
  • What questions do you have?

Second Read: Dig a Little Deeper

  • What text structures and text features were used?
  • What is the author’s purpose?
  • How does the author feel about the subject?
  • Why did the author use particular words and phrases?

Third Read: Put it all Together

  • What inferences can you make?
  • How does the author support key points?
  • How does this relate to other texts you’ve read?
  • How does this relate to your life?

If you’d like to know more about close reading, here’s a good article from Educational Leadership.


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Photo by Easa Shamih (iZZo) | P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y

Closing In On “Close Reading”

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS is an educator, counselor, writer and speaker. She's been a tutor, test prep coach and home school teacher for over thirty years. Click HERE to visit Leigh's website and to subscribe to her newsletter, "Learning Something New."

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APA Reference
Cousins, L. (2015). Closing In On “Close Reading”. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Oct 2015
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