When the concept of close reading first came out I was very confused as to what it meant. As the years went on and we all got more clarity on the Common Core standards and how to implement them, the idea of close reading questions became more manageable.
Despite having a better grasp of it, I still continued to use other people’s resources or our assigned curriculum to teach it. Now, I feel comfortable in choosing literature and developing my own questions from it, and I want you to have that same confidence!
Before we begin…
Here are a couple of reminders about your close reading lessons:
- Close reading should not be done on every book you read. Read multiple books a week to your students just for the pleasure of reading.
- Choose one book a week to do an in-depth close read on. You will read this same book multiple times during the week.
- Take the time to review the book yourself and come up with questions. Don’t do this part on the fly while you are reading to your kids. The questions won’t be as well thought out or in-depth.
- Once you create the questions for the book, you have them forever. Put in the work in the beginning and then you’ll be set later on!
- Always be on the lookout for good literature! Amazing new stories come out every day.
Close reading throughout the week
Day 1 – Read the book all the way through without stopping. After the read, ask basic retelling questions to check for comprehension.
Day 2 & 3 – Re-read the book, but stop to ask questions along the way. Not on every page, but around 4-5 questions each day.
Note – with some books I read them all the way through on days 2 AND 3, and with others, I read half on day 2 and the other half on day 3. If you’ve found the right book that your students are super engaged in, they won’t allow you to read only half of the book! LOL
Day 4 & 5 – Turn to pre-selected pages to ask pointed questions about the text.
What questions do I ask?
Questions should increase in difficulty as the week progresses. I made a close reading cheat sheet for you to help inspire some ideas. Just fill in the information below to access the freebie:
I write all of my questions down on post-it notes and add them onto the page that the question pertains to. For the basic comprehension questions, I just attach the post-it note to the last page. I write a number on each one of my post-it notes as well, so that I know which day I would like to ask the question.
Make a list of 4-5 vocabulary words that you would like the students to learn. I teach these on the first day before we read the story, and the students listen to try and find them as I read. I review vocabulary words every single day of the week before I start the story. Having a picture attached to the vocabulary word helps immensely!
Which books should I read?
Choosing books for close reading gets easier over time as you begin to see which books students are really engaged in. Look for books with an interesting plot and new vocabulary that you can expose your students to. Below is a list of books that my students LOVED. Students requested these books to be read long after our close reading lessons were done. You can click on each link to purchase the books.
- Not Quite Narwhal by Jessica Sima
- Snow Day! by Lester Laminack
- Elmer by David McKee
- Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens
- Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
- Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy
- The Sandwich Swap by Queen Raina Al Abdullah
- The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane DeRolf
- The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
- Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
- A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon
- Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
- National Geographic Readers – Student favorites include snakes, sharks, bats, tigers, volcanoes, and dolphins
I could go on and on, but these books are a great place to start. I can tell you from personal experience that kids will beg you to read these books over and over. They are rich stories with great vocabulary and eye-catching illustrations.
Always be on the lookout for great literature and spend time on social media looking for recommendations from other teachers. My favorite place to find new books is in little independent book stores. They really take time to curate their collection because of their limited space!
I hope this post has been helpful to you, and please share in the comments any close reading books that you think I need to add to my collection!
Check out some of my other literature resources on the website!: