In Falling in Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts—and Life, Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts offer strategies for close reading narratives, informational texts, and arguments, as well as activities that transfer the skills of close reading to various media (songs, video games, advertisements, etc.) and components of students’ lives (relationships, arguments, choices, etc.).
The entire text is built around a three-step ritual to help students navigate the skills of close reading: 1) Read the text through a specific lens or lenses and gather details. 2) Look for patterns and relationships among the details collected. 3) Use the patterns to develop ideas and a new understanding of the text.
Lehman and Roberts provide full-sized, reproducible charts to guide and support close reading in each of the following focuses: text evidence, word choice, structure, point of view and argument, and reading across texts. For each focus, Lehman and Roberts offer two versions of the chart: one geared toward narratives and one geared toward informational texts. Each chart provides possible types of lenses, patterns, and understandings to guide students through the ritual of close reading.
Each section is packed full of activities to introduce, practice, and execute the skills of close reading. Lehman and Roberts suggest a variety texts to use for both the narrative and informational texts options (which are sometimes accompanied with a QR code in the margin linking the reader to an online source), as well as provide sample student work from their classrooms. They also make connections to relevant media and to students’ lives throughout each section, emphasizing again and again the applicability of close reading skills beyond the classroom. Finally, Lehman and Roberts offer a variety of suggestions for differentiation throughout, both to provide extra support for struggling readers and to challenge those ready to move ahead.
The texts Lehman and Roberts suggest range from short stories and articles you can track down online to longer works like fiction novels and nonfiction publications. While, for ease of direct replication, it would have been nice for each activity to have been structured around shorter pieces (both narratives and informational texts) that are readily available online or even provided in full in the appendices, the materials and structure Lehman and Roberts provide can be developed into a close reading unit from scratch or worked into an existing unit with relative ease. Whether you choose to use all or parts of the text, Falling in Love with Close Reading will help you develop a rigorous and meaningful approach to teaching the skills of close reading that will empower students to analyze and discuss classroom texts, relevant media, and their lives.