The Common Core Standards are heavily immersed in what is known as “Close Reading.”  What is close reading?  This publication in Educational Leadership gives a good overview.

After reading this, here are three “big ideas” of my own:

  1. I agree that getting students to self-question is crucial, and if we want students to independently ask questions that lead to the type of critical thinking found in close reading, we have to model it.  I really like the provided table in Figure 1 that can be used for quick reference.
  2. Although I agree there’ s value in close reading, I think we need to avoid overkill.  Really, who does this type of literally analysis all the time? In my opinion, instead of opening doors of deep intellectual thought, too much focus on close reading can kill the joy of reading. I would much rather a child leave my classroom with a deep appreciation and love for reading than a child who displays expert literary analysis skills, yet would rather stare at a wall for five hours than read a book!
  3. Finally, I strongly disagree with the notion that the education process is about the development of “college and career ready” individuals. Rather, it should be about the development of self-actualizing individuals prepared to contribute to the greater good of society.

Creativity, collaboration, and compassion – none measured in the CCSS – are surely more predictive of success and the betterment of the world we live in than a strong proficiency in literary analysis.

However, a teacher can (and should) take advantage of powerful literature and the process of close reading, using both as a conduit to produce those life skills of true importance and value.