If you Google Close Reading, you will find a few scant questions that can be used to help facilitate discussions about fictional and nonfictional texts. We’ve expanded the usual lists, incorporating a range of questions that help teachers and students take a CLOSER look and make deeper analyses of texts.
Generally, Close Reading Questions help students understand the variety of purposes associated with reading texts of any kind. Recognizing not only the purpose for the reader but also the author’s purpose for writing and structuring the text through its organization assists students in grasping and making meaning of texts both literally and contextually. With an understanding of a text’s structure (i.e., organization), students can begin to recognize patterns, seeing how ideas are woven throughout the text and identifying how ideas are connected and interconnected (e.g., craft and structure) throughout the work. Additionally, students need opportunities to explore how the use of language contributes to tone and mood through diction and subsequent connotations of word choices.
We’ve organized our questions into 3 major categories, which are aligned directly with the Common Core State Standards:
1. What Does the Text Say (Main Ideas & Key Details)
2. How Does the Text Say It? (Craft & Structure)
3. What Does the Text Mean? (Integration of Knowledge & Ideas)
As you implement the range of CLOSER Reading Questions we’ve provided here in your literacy practices, we encourage you to re-word and re-phrase the questions to meet the readiness levels of your students. Additionally, as you use the suggestions below, please feel free to add questions you generate independent of those presented here to our list via comments so all our visitors can benefit from your expertise.
Main Idea & Details
- What is the main idea of the overall reading selection? How do you know? Cite (point to/read/identify/quote) specific lines, sentences, words or phrases that indicate the main idea.
- What lines, sentences, words, or phrases support the overall main idea? What are the supporting details? How do these details specifically support the main idea? Through examples? Anecdotes? Statistics? Facts?
- What is the main idea of the second paragraph? Cite specific lines, sentences, words or phrases that indicate the main idea. What are the supporting details? Follow this process for each of other paragraphs.
- Who is speaking in the passage? How do you know? What can we infer or what conclusions can be drawn about the speaker/narrator and his/her motivations?
- Who seems to be the main audience? (To whom is the narrator speaking?)
Tone & Diction
- What is the overall tone of the text?
Preachy? Objective? Somber? Humorous? Condescending? Defensive? Informative? Persuasive? Formal? Negative? Archaic? Legalistic? Sarcastic? Matter-of-Fact? Official? Research-based? Instructional? Candid? Satirical? Vague? Diplomatic? Sincere? etc.
- What words help you infer the tone? Why do you think the author selected that particular word? What is its meaning? What is the connotation (feelings, thoughts, images, hidden meanings associated with a word) of this particular word?
- Does the text make sense? What words, phrases, or sentences lend to the text’s credibility? What elements weaken it?
- How has the author organized the content? Sequential? Cause-Effect? Argument and support? Opinion-Proof? Problem-Solution? Exposition (main idea and details/examples)? Comparing & Contrasting?
- Are topic sentences easily discernible? What are the topic sentences, and what do they indicate readers should expect?
- Create a visual outlining the author’s organizational structure.
- What evidence in the text is there that ideas are connected and interconnected? Cite textual support. What are the purposes of these connections? How do such connections strengthen the author’s purpose, clarify ideas, create sequence, strengthen arguments, or drive home concepts?
- Does the author use repetition, parallel structure, etc., to make his/her point? Are these methods effective? How so?
- How effective is the author’s organization? Why is this particular method or technique particular effective and befitting the content/subject?
- Are there subtitles/subheadings? Are the subtitles/subheadings appropriate? What are other more appropriate subtitles/subheadings that adequately reflect the main idea?
Purpose & Point of View
- What is the author’s point of view? 1st person? 3rd person (limited, omniscient)? Objective? Biased? How do you know? What words, lines, phrases, or sentences lean towards objectivity or biased statements?
- How effective is the author’s point of view in presenting the content?
- How would a different point of view change or alter the purpose? the perception? the tone? the mood? the meaning?
- What is the overall purpose of the text? To persuade? To inform? To entertain? To describe? To defend? To critique? To evaluate?
- Is the purpose appropriately presented for the intended audience? How so? What words, lines, phrases, or sentences appeal directly to the intended audience?
Integration of Knowledge & Ideas
- What seems to be the most important point, concept, idea, theme, supposition of the selection? How do you know?
- What does the author mean by (select particular lines/phrases from the selection)? What exact words lead you to this meaning?
- What is the author’s main goal? How do you know? Has he/she achieved this goal? Defend your response.
- Is there something missing from this passage that you expected to encounter? Why might the author have left this detail/information out? Does its absence critically impact the readers’ experience, understanding, or connection to the concept/subject?
- Is there anything that could have been explained more thoroughly for greater clarity? Why is this clarity needed? What would it improve? Why is this missing information critical to the text?
- What is the true message of the main idea? What in the text led you to this conclusion?
- How does a particular sentence/passage fit into the text as a whole?
- What is the big idea?
- How is idea/message/concept presented in other texts by other authors? In other genres?
- Is the selection an adequate reflection of the historical period or contextual situations it represents? What other information, details, or vernacular (language and diction) could strengthen the work’s representation of the historical or contextual frames it reflects?
- What implications does the text have for content area concept under study?
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