Social Studies & History Informational Texts


Why focus on close reading?

“One of the key requirements of the Common Core State Standards for Reading is that all students… must be able to read and comprehend independently and proficiently the kinds of complex texts commonly found in college and careers.” CCSS Appendix A, pg. 2

Through close reading of complex text, students can develop thinking strategies and perseverance required to understand and be successful with difficult or unfamiliar texts. Close reading engages the reader in a thorough analysis of the text. The only evidence or information the reader relies on is what the author has directly included in the text.

Effective close reading instruction motivates and rewards all students for reading inquisitively; focuses on building knowledge through the strategic use of text-dependent questions; and prepares students for the kinds of reading tasks they will encounter in college and careers.

A characteristic of close reading is that teachers use text-dependent questions to prompt students to return to the text. Students are guided to deeply analyze and appreciate various aspects of the text, such as key vocabulary and how its meaning is shaped by context; to focus on the author’s word choices and repetition, specific sentences, literary devices, or how particular passages contain information that is key to the learning (literal meaning); to determine inferential meaning (mood, tone, author’s purpose) and make connections.

Close reading instruction facilitated by a skilled teacher is one of many research-based outcomes that can help students become independent and proficient readers of increasingly complex texts.

The following text exemplars are taken from the Common Core State Standards Appendix B and will provide teachers with a starting point for introducing authentic text into their classroom routine. A selection of text-dependent questions and performance tasks have been provided with each exemplary text for teachers to use as they incorporate the goal of close reading into their instruction. Academic vocabulary has also been highlighted that may need to be defined before teachers use the selected text.