Close Reading Strategy

If you are struggling with comprehension in general or just with a particular text, the following strategy could help. It’s designed to get readers to do on paper what many stronger readers do naturally in their head. That being said, even if you are a strong reader, these strategies could help you deal with complex texts.

1. Chunk the text. Divide the reading into smaller chunks. These chunks could be each stanza for a poem or every few paragraphs for prose. It’s better if this is not done randomly, but at divisions that sort of make sense.
2.  Underline and circle with a purpose. Underline main ideas and key phrases. Ciricle key words; strong verbs; repeated words or phrases; important names, places, and dates; etc.
3. Summarize each chunk. In ten words or less, summarize what’s happening in that section.​ It’s recommended to write this in the left margin. Also, draw a simple picture that illustrates the main idea.
4. For each chunk, write in one word what the author is doing. In other words, “informing,” “persuading,” “proving,” “describing,” “complaining,” “questioning,” “explaining,” etc.
5. Ask and answer the “5 Ws and How” (who, what, when, where, why and how) for each section. If you can’t answer them, re-read to get the answers.

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