Last year, I went to a training on Reading in the Common Core with Dr. Tim Shanahan.  I figure, as the former head of IRA, he was someone I could listen to and trust for information.  I didn’t know until that day, that he and his wife were researchers who gave input on the standards themselves.  His training was very thorough and insightful.  I learned a lot about how the standards themselves were written, the long standing research behind them, and it gave me a new-found buy-in to the standards.  He is an engaging and knowledgeable speaker.  And, you know it’s a good training, when one of your favorite trainers is in the audience herself.  If you have an opportunity to go and see him, I’d highly recommend it.

One section of our training was on close reading.  Dr. Shanahan took us through a close reading on The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater.  When we finished, my honest reaction was mainly “Oh, that’s all close reading is?”  I think there’s a big fear of close reading, mainly because it’s unknown, and there’s no one “right” way to do it.  My big takeaway from the day was that close reading is really not all that different from the way good teachers share great, high quality books.

Close reading is really reading closely.  It’s looking at the text to not only understand the written text, but to also understand how the text was written.  It’s analyzing the choices the author made in making the book.  And, of course, it’s making connections between the reader and the text and the text and other texts.  Close reading generally has students reading the text 3 times, but there is no definition stating that it has to be three times and it should only be 3 times.  It’s really about what works for that specific text.

Shanahan’s recommendation for the 3 readings is as follows:
1st reading- Focus on big ideas and whole text comprehension
2nd reading- How the text works
3rd reading- Connections to self and other texts; analysis of the text’s quality and value

I created Close Reading Companions to go with well-known books because I feel like while teachers are willing to go through the book to do this on their own, we often lack the time to really do it.  So, I thought these would be a help to other teachers.I used his recommendations as guidance as I started preparing my Close Reading Companions.  I do a lot more inferential, text based questioning during the second reading, however.  I feel that if you ask all of those questions during the first reading, students miss information because their reading is too chopped up.  I don’t pretend to know more than the expert, it’s just my take on it 🙂

My Christmas Edition covers The Carpenter’s Gift {a great story about the Rockefeller Center tree} and Home for Christmas {because of course you need some Jan Brett during Christmas time}.  If you don’t have the books, you can get them from Amazon by clicking the covers below.
While we would love to just do great, engaging discussions with our students, we are in an age of high accountability where we are sure students can show their knowledge and understanding. Plus, sometimes, it’s easier for students to building their thinking if they can record it along the way.  So, on top of questions that will help lead your class discussion, I also provide recording sheets and graphic organizers for many of the questions.
If you are interested in checking out that unit, click on any of the pictures to head to my TpT store to see more information.

My Patricia Polacco edition covers The Butterfly and Pink and Say.  These two are my absolute favorite Patricia Polacco books because of their realness and way of bringing the war alive for readers.


After creating these, I realized probably are wanting to try things out on their own in their rooms using the texts they already have.  For that reason, I created a master set of graphic organizers that can be used to do Close Reading with any text.

Click the image above to head to TpT to see more about them.  The preview gives you a quick glance at many of the different organizers, for both fiction and non-fiction.

I also created a free unit for Miss Nelson is Missing.  It’s a great book that requires students to infer throughout the text.

As a standard text in many classrooms, I thought it was a great unit to offer for free for many people to check out.  Just click on any of the pictures below to head to my TpT store to download it for FREE

Are there other texts that are great for close reading?  How have you started to implement it in your classroom?  I’m off to run the million errands I have today, but I’m thankful for the day off!  Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate!