Close Reading in the Early Grades

The adoption of the Common Core has made “close reading” the new hot topic in the literacy/reading world. However, how does close reading translate to the youngest of the primary grades? I poked around a little on YouTube and found some (of what I found to be) inappropriately difficult texts being taught to first graders under the auspices of a “close reading” lesson. In my opinion, close reading need not be taught with a more difficult text, or only with expository text. It is also my opinion that the term “close reading” is really synonymous with a series of good reading lessons. Take for example the two lessons below for a kindergarten class doing a close reading of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar: 

The first lesson focuses on recounting the story and recalling information from it. I like how the students are encouraged to take their recalled information further by classifying all the foods the caterpillar eats. Adding even more higher order thinking skills — the teacher asks the young students to think of their own categories for the foods (eg. “healthy” and “unhealthy”). Clever!

The second lesson focuses on language and vocabulary development. The teacher again incorporates higher order thinking skills by asking students to explain how the author tells us what a “cocoon” is by closely examining the language used in the text.

How do you use close reading in your early childhood classrooms?


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