Close reading has become a buzz phrase in our schools, classrooms and educational literature after the common core standards began to be implemented across the United States. Close reading has advocates and critics in abundance. Many have suggested that close reading as a practice will destroy a readers desire to read. Others say it is crucial for students to be able to understand and examine a text. As with many educational practices once it becomes institutionalized it seems to take on a life of its own that is no longer connected to the learners it is meant to help.
My hope for close reading in my classroom is that it encourages the love of good literature. I work with kindergarteners and first graders. We love books in our classroom. The children know early in the year that a good book is meant to be read more than once!
This was one of my teaching mantras long before the introduction of close reading. I believe we will destroy the desire of our youngest readers and all readers to read if we are constantly stopping reading of a text with a stream of questions. In my classroom we spend time looking at illustrations in the books, rereading good stories and deciding whether we would like to read more of an author’s books. We also enjoy poetry. We do answer questions about stories and poems.
Recently we used I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr. illustrated by Kadir Nelson to do a close read in my classroom. It is beautifully illustrated. We read the book several times admiring the illustrations as we read it. After several readings I asked the children to chose a favorite illustration with a sticky note.
The children shared their thoughts about the illustration. The children were amazing. The lesson was developmentally appropriate and they wanted to read the book again!
I don’t like the idea of using contrived texts and pre-made products for close reading. I hope everyone will take a step back and use close reading as a way to get our students to love reading good literature again. Children need to spend time with good books. We should not exhaust our youngest readers with continual questions. We should help them learn to love books. After all part of cherishing a story is remembering what made us love it. Sometimes that love makes us want to read it again and share it with someone else. I will continue to figure out the best way to use close reading to encourage readers.
To learn join my journey visit me at Teaching Resources for the Classroom.