close read passages

You Can’t Find Close Read Passages? Here’s How To Write Your Own!

So you’ve been spending your planning period looking for the right close reading passage. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right passage for close reading, especially if you have little readers. They might be too hard/easy and you’re left feeling like Goldilocks looking for the perfect chair. Ever been there? When you can’t find the right passage, what do you do? YOU WRITE YOUR OWN!

No, for real! It’s really not that hard. I’ll show you how step-by-step. If you’re new to close reading lessons or you’d like some extra help teaching close reading to your younger readers, this FREE GUIDE is perfect for you! DOWNLOAD IT HERE!

Tip #1

Start by thinking about the upcoming things you’re teaching. What do your lesson plans look like for the month? Are you doing a social studies unit on landforms? Cool, you can write a passage about mountains and rivers.

close read text

A few more examples that are not social studies… stick a math passage in there where you’re teach counting money and the main character has a lemonade stand. Anything your students can relate to can be a close reading text idea! For example, buying ingredients to make a cake, looking at the weather to pack for a trip, or even saving money to go to the bookfair. 

Why will it help you to be cross-curricular? You will have extra opportunities for your students to learn what you’re already teaching. So throw those spelling words from last week in when writing your own close reading passages. Your students will be excited to see familiar words, and may even make it a point to tell you.

This will give you more time to get the things that you probably don’t have a chance to teach. I love the spring when I can do a whole butterfly unit, but each year I have to cut back my plans more and more due to time constraints.

If I do a week of close reading with a butterfly life cycle passage, then I know I’ll get the chance to teach more about one of my favorite subjects. Get creative! If you’re trying to be creative and you’ve got writer’s block, you’re probably already thinking about a lot about the units you’re teaching, so don’t feel like you need to come up with topics from scratch.

There is a butterfly life cycle passage in the May Close Reading

Get It Here ->

Tip #2

Before you begin, choose 2 vocabulary words or phrases that you would like to introduce to your students. It can even be past vocab words or phrases. Remember reuse and recycle, you don’t have to reinvent every time. 

This is also a great way to fit in a vocabulary lesson that you might not have time for. Or, it’s another chance if you saw your students needed a little more help with certain words. 

writing close reading text

Choose something robust that they might not have heard before. This will keep them more interested in the text versus a familiar story where they might already know what’s happening. Also, it’s a great time to expose your littles to different “genres” of literature. 

Write your passage with those words in mind, but don’t overdo it. I’m totally guilty of overdoing it and then noticing my students needed more of my help. So stick to your gut and write your heart out. 

Tip #3

writing passage for close reading


Choose a blend of nonfiction and fiction. If you’re teaching about animals that hibernate, then you can write one of each… a nonfiction text passage about what happens to an animal that hibernates, and another fiction passage about an animal in the woods that hibernates all winter long.

Other ideas:

  • Compare and contrast non-fiction: facts about reptiles and amphibians, fiction or write about two friends who have the same birthday but received different birthday gifts.
  • Communities – non-fiction: Different types of homes, fiction: a story about a community helper that everyone knows in the neighborhood.
  • Fractions – a non-fiction text passage that explains what a fraction is, fiction: two siblings who are trying to divide some snacks equally.
I’ve even used real classroom scenarios when writing my own close reading passages. You won’t believe how excited your students get if they see you praising their good work in story form. You can even use student names. This adds a fun reaction!

Tip #4

Don’t be afraid to write a longer, more difficult text passage. Ideally, you’d like your passages to be a step above your student’s independent reading level. Because, remember, close reading is not independent reading. You are teaching your students to feel confident “attacking” harder passages.
how to write close read text
Aim for 3-4 paragraphs for your close reading stories. Somewhere between 2-4 sentences for each paragraph is a great place to begin. Here’s you’re chance to add in more content you’d like to teach them, so it’s better to write a harder passage than a short passage. Try to steer away from a decodable reader format.

Tip #5

close read text

Publishing! It’s important how your passage LOOKS. Choose a kid-friendly font. Even the dreaded comic sans will work. 

I usually stick with a font that is similar to the way my students write. I look for the letters that my younger readers might not know if the font is different. A typeset a or for example. 

Make sure the font is big enough where you can annotate around it, but not too big.An 18-20 pt font seems to always work for me. I too have to remind myself first grader’s handwriting can be quite big sometimes, so leaving them that space for annotation marks is important.

Keep all your text on one page. There’s nothing more frustrating for a beginning reader to turn the page over back and forth only to lose their place. Close reading is about strengthening the overall understanding of a story so we want to support that as much as possible. 

Add a title and an author byline! Your students need to know that YES, you are an author too! (Totally use this for your writer’s workshop lesson for teacher clout) Don’t you dare forget what a super teacher you are!

Add a picture too! There are plenty of free clipart sites out there, let your Google fingers do the walking. But, when you’re choosing a picture, make sure it doesn’t give too much of your subject away. The picture should be a sneak peek of what they’re learning that matches the title, not something that is a hint to decode the text they’re reading. When I write my close reading passages, I add only one picture near the title. 

Keep the same format for all your passages. This will help create a template for you, so you’re not formatting a document each time. This will also help your students since the passages will look the same each time and they’ll know what to expect.

Go the black and white text and picture route for your students. Color for you if you’d like to be extra. (or if you have enough color copies left) You’ll need a copy for you to display on a screen while your students look at their own copy.

Tip #6

Organize your passages. Once you practice, you’ll get really good at writing several at once. If you’re planning for a month of close reading lessons, you’re only going to need one close reading text for each week. So that’s usually 4. I set a timer for 15 minutes, put on some music, and write as many as I can. Or turn on Netflix if you can concentrate with people talking (I can’t, so it’s Rachel Portman music for me.)

passages for close read

Here’s the cool part… once you write them, you’ll have them for future years. I reused my passages for close reading for years! I kept all my close reading passages in file folders in my filing cabinet. You can organize them by month, or by subject. It’s up to you. I usually chose to organize them by month, since I taught the same things in the same months. (butterflies go in the month of May etc.)

If you’d rather keep them in a binder in sheet protectors, do it! I love the idea of binders on a shelf, you just grab it and go, but I never put my papers away after I made copies, so that didn’t work for me. That extra step of putting them back into the sheet protector gave me hives. (But I always wished I was a binder teacher!)

So… it’s not as daunting as you thought it be is it? Believe me, lesson planning exerts more energy out of me each year. But the fact that you can tell your students YOU wrote the passage will be impressive. Plus, you get to choose what YOU want the passages to say… how many times have you pulled a reading passage out and it’s not quite what you were looking for. So give it a try!

You might be interested in these strategies for close reading:

  • What Is Close Reading? 
  • How To Teach Your Students To Annotate
  • Writing Your Own Close Reading Passages
  • Focusing On The Vocabulary In Close Read Passages – Coming Soon
  • Comprehension Activities And Close Reading – Coming Soon
  • Why Teach Close Reading With Interactive Writing – Coming Soon
  • I’ve Taught A Close Read Lesson. Now What? – Coming Soon
  • What Tools Do I Need To Teach Close Reading? – Coming Soon
  • How Can I Teach Close Reading And Have Partner Activities? – Coming Soon
  • Important Classroom Management Tips For Close Reading Activities – Coming Soon
Of course, if you want to have a little help with reading passages, here is a FREE close reading guide that has two reading passages already written for you! I do have an entire year of close reading passages, lesson plans, and activities available for you if you’re wanting to have them all ready to print and go!

This FREE guide will teach you the close reading strategies that will make a close read lesson successful.

As an elementary teacher, it’s hard to adapt close reading successfully for younger readers. I didn’t have a manual when I began, but I wish I had an easier start. So I wanted to give teachers like you a head start when you’re teaching close reading to beginning readers. 

With this free guide, you’ll know what to do to keep your kiddos engaged all week.

You will learn what supplies and materials you need for a successful close reading lesson. You’ll learn what to do on each day during your week of close reading. This was another struggle for me.
I read through the text passage with my students, NOW WHAT? 

You’ll have vocabulary ideas to boost your students’ mastery of words and phrases, imagine how great it would be to have time for vocabulary instruction! I’ll show you how it works!

Comprehension is hard for younger readers. They learn to decode words and now they have to understand what everything together means too?

With how much we have to teach in a week, the idea of “Fun Fridays” went out the window years ago. At least it did for me. I didn’t have time to do the fun crafts and activities that first-graders love and frankly deserve to do! I always thought this was so sad, and I wanted to bring it back somehow. So I devoted the last day of close reading to a fun extension activity about the topic of our close reading passage. I’ll show you how to find time for a fun activity, where your students are still learning in the FREE guide for close reading!

I also added the best classroom management tips I used during our close reading week, so you can actually teach your students, rather than correcting unwanted behavior or trying to keep your kiddos attention.

And best of all? I’ve added two close reading passages WITH lesson plans to get you started.

When you download the FREE Guide For Teaching Close Reading To Younger Readers, you’ll learn:

  • How to teach your students to annotate.
  • Which supplies you need and which ones you don’t!
  • What you need to know about the best reading passages for close reading.
  • What to teach on each day of a close reading week.
  • How to improve your student’s vocabulary with close reading.
  • Techniques to improve your student’s reading comprehension skills.
  • Extension activities that take the topic of your close reading passage further.
  • Classroom management during close reading, including partner activities and effective transitions.

You’ll also get two close reading text passages with TWO WEEKS of lesson plans! 

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Rachael Hull

Rachael Hull

Teaching literacy and facilitating literacy stations has been a passion of Rachael's and she wants to help you gain confidence in your classroom!


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