Critical reading Can students really have an opinion? Many students feel that, having only done a few hours of reading on a topic, they can't argue against an author who has spent many years writing a book. Yet, one of the main purposes of teaching critical literacy is to enable students to read , analyze, evaluate, and take action on what they read.

Critical readers and learners:

  • resist manipulation
  • ask powerful questions
  • base judgments on evidence
  • look for connections between subjects
  • are honest with themselves
  • are intellectually independent

All text/arguments are written from a someones perspective and are driven by the authors background and experiences. Critical reading requires readers to consider not only what is being said about the topic ( the content) but also who is doing the speaking ( the writer). I call this READING WITH THE WRITER IN MIND.The following questions help students develop these attributes and come to understand that no author has total authority and their opinions do matter:

  • What is the topic of the book or reading?
  • What issues are being addressed?
  • What conclusion does the author reach about the issue(s)?
  • What is the writers Big Idea?
  • What are the author's reasons for his or her statements or belief?
  • Is the author using facts, theory, or faith? Facts can be proven. Theory is to be proved and should not be confused with fact. Opinions may or may not be based on sound reasoning. Faith is not subject to proof by its nature.
  • Does the author seem neutral? What words or emotions are conveyed about the topic through the authors choice of word?
  • What do other writers say/think about the topic?
  • Do you agree?
  • What support do you have for your thoughts/opinions?

So, the next time your are talking to students about what they are reading, be sure to ask them this questions: What's your opinion? Just imagine where this conversation can take you!
Photo on Flickr by Felipe Morin

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