Mastering Close Reading

Mastering Close Reading

July 15, 20233 min read

“The act of reading is a partnership. The author builds the house, but the reader makes it a home.” - Jody Picoult


For children with exceptional needs, such as working memory issues or executive functioning deficits, reading comprehension can often pose significant challenges. However, there are effective strategies that can help these students improve their understanding of texts and become more confident readers. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of close reading and discuss techniques that can be beneficial for students of all ages who struggle with reading comprehension.

Mastering Close Reading

Close Reading Techniques for Elementary School Age Children:

Pre-Reading Preparation:

Before diving into the text, it's essential to set the stage for comprehension. Encourage students to activate their prior knowledge by brainstorming related ideas or discussing relevant experiences. Previewing the text's structure, vocabulary, and illustrations can also help build anticipation and context.

Annotation and Highlighting:

Teach students to annotate the text by underlining or highlighting key ideas, unfamiliar words, or confusing passages. Encourage them to jot down questions, connections, or summaries in the margins. These annotations serve as valuable reference points for reflection and discussion.

Chunking and Paraphrasing:

Breaking down complex passages into smaller, manageable chunks can alleviate overwhelm and enhance comprehension. After reading each section, have students paraphrase the main ideas in their own words. This process fosters active engagement with the text and ensures comprehension at a deeper level.

Asking Questions:

Encourage students to ask questions while reading. This can be done at various stages, such as before reading to generate curiosity, during reading to clarify confusing points, and after reading to delve deeper into the text's meaning. Questions promote critical thinking and help students make connections between their prior knowledge and the information presented in the text.

Visualizing and Making Connections:

Guiding students to create mental images while reading enhances comprehension by activating their imagination. Encourage them to visualize the characters, settings, and events. Additionally, help them make connections between the text and their personal experiences, other books they've read, or the world around them.

Summarizing and Reflecting:

After completing the reading, ask students to summarize the main ideas or key events in their own words. This exercise promotes synthesis of information and helps solidify comprehension. Additionally, encourage reflection on how the text relates to their own lives or broader themes, fostering a deeper understanding and critical thinking skills.


Close reading strategies provide valuable tools for students with exceptional needs to enhance their reading comprehension abilities. By incorporating techniques such as pre-reading preparation, annotation, chunking, questioning, visualization, summarizing, and reflection, educators and parents can empower these students to become more effective readers. Remember, these strategies are not limited to elementary school age children but can be adapted and utilized for students of all ages.

At PASEN, our commitment is to support families with exceptional students in their educational journey. By implementing close reading strategies and other evidence-based approaches, we strive to create opportunities and empower students to succeed. If you would like to learn more about our organization or explore additional resources, please visit our website.

Remember, reading comprehension is a skill that can be developed and strengthened with practice and effective strategies. With the right support and guidance, students with exceptional needs can unlock the joy of reading and experience the transformative power of literacy.

ReadingLiteracyReading Comprehension
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John Harris

John Harris is a certified Language Arts instructor with 25 years of teaching. MaED in Administration and Supervision, and the Director of Operations for PASEN.

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