A Walk Through Psalm 23
A Simple Introduction to Close Reading
Introduction: The Basics
When we speak to one another, we use more than words to convey meaning. There are many clues we pick up on that help us to understand what is being communicated, such as gestures, body language, and tone of voice. For example, many of us recognize what it means when mom crosses her arms and taps her foot. However, it is different when we read a text. There is a distance between writer and reader. Without tone of voice or body language, it is more difficult to recognize how an author may feel about a character, place, or idea. Texts don’t come with facial expressions, body language, or tone of voice, so how do we “read between the lines”? Close reading (defined here as a method not a literary criticism theory) uses inductive reasoning to develop and strengthen reading skills. Close reading requires that readers go beyond simply decoding words or scanning for main ideas. It requires the reader to pay attention to details of specific features within texts, then use those details to construct meaning, formulate interpretations, or evaluate information. Close reading requires a great deal of focused attention and is best used on shorter texts. Over time, however, students who become skilled close readers find they naturally pick up on subtle details when they read longer texts.