In Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst (Heinnemann 2012), teachers are provided with a wealth of information relating to close reading. Not only do they provide six clear “sign posts” to teach close reading, but also questions for students to ask themselves relating to close read, lesson plan ideas for teaching the strategies, and real class examples of how the lesson plans proceed. Notice and Note is geared toward teachers of students from fourth to tenth grade, but any reader (even the most emergent) can enjoy literature more by pondering the questions and noticing the sign posts as they experience literature.
Although I had not been familiar with close reading before I read Notice and Note, Beers and Probst provided enough background to convince me that most texts can be a rigorous reading experience for young students. Beers and Probst argued that rigor is not in the text but in the students’ approach. I appreciated that. Close reading is about approaching the text carefully: reading to notice the details and question the reasons an author may have written what he or she wrote. These are things that I did not carefully do when I was compulsively reading for the many years previous. I read for story; I read for the fun twists. It did not occur to me to slowly read, looking for details. Of course, sometimes those details were apparent and obviously enjoyed.
In teaching my son, however, I have found that he struggles to retain details from stories. Of course, reading is still about story a lot of the time, especially for a child. Reading a full book closely would not be logical when we are teaching children to read. Beers and Probst address this too. Close reading should be done with short excerpts or portions, and it should not be expected all the time. My son, though he is a strong reader, tends to read on the surface. Notice and Note gave me ideas of how to help him learn how to read when it is time to read more carefully and closely.
I can only image this book would be a godsend to educators hoping to teach full classrooms. As I read, I kind of wish my son had a classroom with whom he could brainstorm. Our once a week co-op is too brief and in frequent for the kinds of discussions Beers and Probst demonstrated.
I highly recommend Notice and Note for the Language Art teacher interested in close reading strategies.
What books can you recommend for teaching close reading strategies?