The Benefits of Close Reading in First Grade

Reading is a fundamental skill that we are constantly working to strengthen. Using close readings in first grade is a simple way to boost reading comprehension. When you use close reading, you are asking students to analyze a text, pay attention to details, and make connections between the text and the reader’s knowledge and experiences. Many people think of high school and college literature courses when they think of close reading. However, it is a valuable skill that can and should be taught in all grade levels. 

The Benefits of Close Reading in First Grade 

Close reading has many benefits. Some of these benefits include: 

  1. Improved Comprehension 
  2. Enhanced Vocabulary 
  3. Developing Critical Thinking Skills 
  4. Encouraging a Love of Reading 
  5. Promoting Academic Success 

When you use close reading in first grade, your students are learning skills they can carry across the curriculum! 

Improving Comprehension

Comprehension is one of the hardest skills for students to obtain. When you do close readings, you are focusing on a specific text and breaking it down into smaller parts. Because you bread down the text, students are able to understand and retain information from the text better. In addition, close reading helps students make connections and draw inferences. Helping students make connections and infer can lead to understanding the text on a deeper level. If you need close reading passages for first grade, make sure you check out this Year Long Close Reading Comprehension Bundle! 

Click the Image for Close Reading Passages

Use Close Reading to Enhance Vocabulary 

Whenever students have the opportunity to read, they are going to encounter new words. Seeing new words can help students develop their context clue skills because they will have to use these clues to determine the meaning of the words. Knowing how to use context clues helps build a strong foundation for vocabulary development which it critical to increase reading comprehension. 

Develop Critical Thinking Skills

A close reading asks students to analyze and evaluate the text. This encourages students to ask questions, make predictions, and form opinions. This helps students develop critical thinking skills because they can’t just point to the right answer. There are multiple “right” answers. Students have to find these answers and use evidence to support their answers. 

Encourage a Love of Reading 

A love of reading is something that develops over time. However, I feel when we introduce students to close readings, we are giving them an opportunity to connect with what they are reading. When students connect to their reading, they are more likely to enjoy it. Reading quick texts and never diving deeper into them might leave students with questions that never get answered. Therefore, using close readings in first grade is a great way to encourage a love of reading. 


Promote Academic Success

It’s no secret that reading is a part of every curriculum. From English to Science, we are reading all the time in every class. Close reading promotes academic success across content areas.  It’s so effective, close readings are a common Core State Standard for grades K-12.

When you use close readings in first grade, you are promoting a higher quality of education for all students. This can help on their state testing as well as in other classes now and in the future. 

Incorporating Close Reading in First Grade 

Now that you know the benefits, what can you do in your classroom to incorporate close readings? You can use these simple tips and check out this previous post

  1. Start with Shorter Texts
  2. Use Graphic Organizers
  3. Ask Questions
  4. Encourage Discussion 
  5. Use Multimedia Resources

Using Shorter Texts 

First graders might not have the attention span or reading muscles (stamina) to do a close reading of a long novel. A long novel takes time, patience, and reading re-reading of longer sections of text. Using short texts for close readings in first grade makes the task much more manageable. You can use short texts, picture books, or short chapters from a longer work. 

Use Graphic Organizers for Close Readings in First Grade 

Graphic organizers are a great way to pull out important information from the text and put it on paper. Plus, graphic organizers can help young readers visualize and make connections to their text. In first grade, you might use a KWL chart (what the student Knows, Wants to Know, and Learned from the text), a Venn diagram, or a T-chart. 

Ask Students Question 

When you ask students questions, they have to engage in the text and engage their critical thinking skills. This encourages them to make connections and draw inferences from the text to themselves or something else they have read. When you use close readings in first grade and incorporate questioning, you’re helping students learn to analyze and think deeper. 

Encourage Discussion 

Whoever is doing the talking is doing the learning. This idea is why having students lead or discuss the text with their peers helps to ensure they understand the text. It also allows them to see a variety of different perspectives about the text they have been reading. A great place to have student-led discussion is by using your small groups during first grade reading centers. You can use close reading for first grade in literacy centers to help with retention. 

Click the Photo for First Grade Centers!

Utilize Multimedia Resources for Close Reading in First Grade 

Using videos, podcasts, or online articles can help bring texts to life for first grade students. If you are doing a close reading, take a moment to search for videos or even virtual field trips that connect to what you are reading. Creating memorable reading moments can increase students’ understanding and interest in reading. 

Close reading in first grade is one of the best ways to help students comprehend. In addition, by teaching students how to analyze and evaluate texts, teachers can help improve comprehension, build vocabulary, develop critical thinking skills, foster a love of reading, and promote academic success. You can incorporate close reading in first grade and help prepare students for success in the future. Build strong readings, introduce close readings in your classroom today. 

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