Illuminating Comprehension and Close Reading

Isabel L. Beck and Cheryl Sandora

HardcoverPaperbacke-bookprint + e-book
December 14, 2015
ISBN 9781462524860
Price: $76.00 $64.60
259 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
December 15, 2015
ISBN 9781462524853
Price: $31.00 $26.35
259 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
December 15, 2015
ePub and PDF ?
Price: $31.00 $26.35
259 Pages
print + e-book
Paperback + e-Book (ePub and PDF) ?
Price: $62.00 $34.10
259 Pages
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Grasping the meaning of a text enables K-8 students to appreciate its language and structure through close reading, which in turn leads to deeper comprehension. This book explains the relationship between comprehension and close reading and offers step-by-step guidelines for teaching both of these key elements of literacy. Reproducible lessons are shared for eight engaging texts (excerpts from fiction, nonfiction, and poetry), complete with discussion tips, queries that scaffold comprehension, close reading activities, and connections to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The authors model lesson development and guide teachers in constructing their own lessons. Texts for 10 additional lessons are provided in the Appendix. Purchasers get access to a Web page where they can download and print all 18 texts in a convenient 8½" x 11" size.

“If you think you already know all you need to about close reading, think again. Beck and Sandora have produced one of the most effective, comprehensive resources I've seen for professional development in reading comprehension. The format is user friendly, and the lessons are well described and engaging. This book should be on every teacher’s desk, and it is a 'must have' for students in teacher education programs and for reading specialists and professional development providers. Administrators, take note: this book demonstrates what you should be looking for when evaluating an excellent reading lesson.”

—Rachel L. McCormack, EdD, Professor of Literacy Education, School of Education, Roger Williams University

“This book is a home run! Educators looking to implement a comprehensive approach to planning deep and meaningful lessons will appreciate this powerful resource. Beck and Sandora demystify the comprehension and close reading puzzle and provide instructional routines, text-based examples, and practical commentary. Reading the book feels like you are engaging in clear and concrete professional development. A 'must have' for any teacher who wants to take text-based instruction to the next level and meet the rigorous demands of the CCSS.”

—Lisa M. Yonek, PhD, Elementary Literacy Supervisor, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Public Schools

“Situated in generative theory and research, this book is above all practical. As promised, the book delivers on the 'why' and the 'how': it both makes a compelling case for close reading and provides comprehensive and wise assistance to teachers.”

—Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, PhD, Distinguished Professor of English Education, Boise State University

Illuminating Comprehension and Close Reading has immediately earned a top spot in my professional library. Beck and Sandora offer a four-step approach to creating meaningful lessons for students with varying degrees of experience with close reading. They provide in-depth lesson examples for narrative and informational texts (with texts supplied for readers to photocopy or download), as well as guided practice opportunities for readers to create their own lessons. One of the most exciting features is the detailed explanation of how to develop queries that focus student attention on important text content, vocabulary and language use, elements of genre, and techniques of the writer.”

—Susan Watts Taffe, PhD, School of Education, University of Cincinnati

Table of Contents

I. The Hows and Whys of Comprehension and Close Reading

1. Overview and Rationale

2. A Sprint through Theory and Research: From Questioning the Author to the Present

3. Queries and the Role They Play in Discussion

4. Just the Gist: Developing Instruction for Basic Comprehension

5. Close Reading: Gist to Grist

6. A Closer Look at Close Reading: Modeling the Development of Close Reading Activities

7. Your Turn for a Narrative

8. Your Turn for an Informational Article

9. Poetry: A Treasure Chest of Close Reading

10. Younger Students: Last but Far from Least

Frequently Asked Questions

II. Text Lessons for Comprehension and Close Reading

Lesson 1. Does an Elephant Never Forget?

Lesson 2. Li Ju and the Magic Tapestry

Lesson 3. Arachne, the Spinner

Lesson 4. Tribute to a Dog

Lesson 5. The Lady, or the Tiger?

Lesson 6. The Hound of the Baskervilles

Lesson 7. The Tell-Tale Heart

Lesson 8.John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address

Appendix. Reproducible Texts from Part One

Common Core State Standards

About the Authors

Isabel L. Beck, PhD, is Professor Emerita of Education in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. She has conducted research and published widely in the areas of decoding, vocabulary, and comprehension. Her contributions have been acknowledged by awards from the International Literacy Association, the Literacy Research Association, and the American Federation of Teachers. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Education. Her books include Bringing Words to Life, Second Edition.

Cheryl Sandora, PhD, is a Research Associate at the Learning Research and Development Center and a Fellow at the Institute for Learning, both at the University of Pittsburgh. Her work has included classroom-based research on comprehension and vocabulary instruction, the development of instructional materials for English/Language Arts classrooms, and professional development for districts around the country. She has taught in public, urban, and rural school districts and has served on the faculties of several universities.


K–8 classroom teachers; reading specialists and coaches; teacher educators; advanced undergraduates and graduate students.

Course Use

May serve as a text in advanced undergraduate- or graduate-level courses.