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.

Video Book Review [Bonus]

For this bonus assignment, students from English I, II, III, and High School Reading can create a video book review, which will be uploaded to Youtube to share with current and future students. The bonus is worth 10 points and is due the last day of the first quarter.

To receive full credit for the video book review,  you MUST:

  • Choose a book from the list that you read for the book journal
  • Prepare a video that is 3-5 minutes long
  • In the video, you should:
    • Tell the title, the author’s name, and the date of publication
    • Discuss the setting, characters, and basic premise of the book WITHOUT spoiling the ending or other major plot points.
    • Read a sample passage directly from the book
    • Feature an image or video of the book’s cover
    • Clearly explain why you would or would not recommend the book to your classmates
    • List publication information for the book and any other non-original work, such as music included in the video.
  • Bring the video on a flash drive or upload it online in a format that can be uploaded to my Youtube channel.

Note: The above example does a pretty good job, but doesn’t include the year of publication nor a sample passage from the book. It’s also a bit under the required three minutes, but including a short excerpt from the book should help you take up that extra time.