Close and Critical Reading

Staff Development module (three hours)
Theme of the Module:

Comprehension is not enough, critical analysis is essential to determine the truth and value of the message.

What you will learn in this module:
  • The definition of close and critical reading and how it is different from reading comprehension.
  • The benefits of close and critical reading
  • The four questions for close and critical reading and the assessment rubric
  • Scaffolded lessons for developing close and critical reading
  • How to assess student responses using the rubric

Click here for a detailed training plan of the Critical Reading Module.

What is Close Reading?
To read well requires one to develop one’s thinking about reading and, as a result, to learn how to engage in the process of what we call close reading. Students not only need to learn how to determine whether a text is worth reading, but also how to take ownership of a text’s important ideas (when it contains them). This requires the active use of intellectual skills. It requires command of the theory of close reading as well as guided practice based on that theory

What is Critical Reading?
To the critical reader, any single text provides but one portrayal of the facts, one individual’s “take” on the subject matter. Critical readers thus recognize not only what a text says, but also how that text portrays the subject matter. They recognize the various ways in which each and every text is the unique creation of a unique author.

Critical reading begins with reading the text to determine what it says. The students need to demonstrate their ability to read and restate or summarize the text. Next, the students need to analyze the text for how the author has crafted the text, including genre, perspective and purpose. Students determine the meaning of the text based on the summary and analysis of the text leading to the big ideas and overall theme. The final questions asks the students to connect the big ideas and theme of the text to their own lives.

A non-critical reader might read a history book to learn the facts of the situation or to discover an accepted interpretation of those events. A critical reader might read the same work to appreciate how a particular perspective on the events and a particular selection of facts can lead to particular understanding.

The above material is based upon or directly from the work of Dan Kurland at