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Close Reading Links

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Close Reading Links

Close Reading Links for Small Group Instruction was created by Dr. Nancy Boyles, Ed.D. for students in grades 3-5 to develop comprehension through close reading. It is based on a model of explicit instruction and the gradual release of responsibility.


  • Six titles (3 fiction and 3 nonfiction) at each grade level — short, complex texts that include classic children’s literature, poetry, folk tales, and engaging informational topics.
  • Strategies for close independent reading with accompanying annotation mini-lessons
  • Rigorous text-dependent questions aligned to the Common Core and depth of knowledge
  • Standards-based comprehension skill lessons scaffolded with learning targets and answer frames
  • Text-to-text questions for student discourse and reading-writing connections
  • Formative assessments for six comprehension skills per grade level
  • A Teacher’s Resource Guide for each grade with clearly explained lessons, suggestions for differentiation, and ready-to-use resources

Teacher's Resource Guides

  • All lesson plans clearly laid out for every lesson
  • 4 Mini-lessons for developing independent close reading skills
  • Lots of classroom-ready reproducibles
  • Rubrics
  • Suggestions for differentiation
In these guides you will find:
  • 10 best-practices for close reading applied to
    • small group instruction
    • strategies for differentiating instruction for
      • on-grade level
      • approaching-grade level
      • above-grade level
    • English language learners
  • Mini-lessons to teach the process of independent close reading
  • A launching lesson for each unit
  • Lessons for all six books (3 literary sources, and 3 informational sources) that include
    • independent close reading
    • follow-up, text-dependent questions
    • a skill matched to the selected passages
  • A text-to-text lesson at the end of the unit integrating all sources
  • Assessment tasks aligned to Common Core Standards, and depth of knowledge
  • Rubrics, checklists, annotation sheets, skill targets, and answer frames
and more to help you scaffold student learning.
This program was created by, Dr. Nancy Boyles, Ed.D., a national literacy consultant, and professor emerita, at Southern Connecticut State University, where she also coordinated the Graduate Reading Program. A former classroom teacher of many years, Nancy has written 10 books on comprehension, including three on close reading. Her chapter, “The Rigor of Independent Close Reading,” appears in, Comprehensive Literacy Basics: An Anthology, from Capstone Professional. Nancy currently provides professional development to schools and districts, presenting workshops, developing curriculum, and modeling best practices in classrooms.

Program Presentation

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I would love an additional copy of each book in the third grade set.  I teach reading to 18 students.  These students are grouped into four small guided reading groups.  I have one group reading above grade level text, two groups reading on grade level text, and one group reading below grade level text.  Recently, I used the “Stories From Long Ago” fables with my reading groups.  My students enjoyed this Capstone series from Dr. Boyle's.  Animals are of high interest to third graders, so I immediately had their attention when introducing them to the book. The stories aligned well with our current curriculum study as the rigorous text included areas of discussion and writing opportunities involving figures of speech (specifically idioms), a central message, characteristics of fables, and inferencing.  Although I work with students of various reading levels, I was able to scaffold my lessons to meet the different group's needs.  The students enjoyed reading the fables as it followed lessons we had done with a fable in our Journeys reading series.  There was a sense of familiarity as we discussed and wrote about similar traits the stories shared.  I sensed feelings of confidence and independence as the students were engaged with different guided reading text that all shared some common characteristics.  I appreciate this opportunity to receive some additional copies of Dr. Boyle's Capstone series.
Thank you,

Kimberley April
Grade 3
Atherton Hough

The Nancy Boyles Close Reading series has been a valuable resource for reading comprehension in my social studies and ELA classes.  I have been able to utilize these short stories in cross-disciplinary units, most specifically the Revolutionary War.  For example, the 'Investigating Primary Sources From American History' allows for me to teach the skills of comprehending and using information for primary sources while teaching about important events leading up to the Revolutionary War.

Rebecca Brooks
Grade 5 Teacher
Point Webster Middle School
Quincy, MA

Dr. Nancy Boyles’ Close Reading Links for Small Group Instruction has been an incredible resource for my teachers to use during small group instruction. It is a compilation of the best components of Nancy’s work over the course of her career, combined into one teacher-friendly AND student-friendly program. The teacher resource guide explicitly walks teachers through how to deliver high-quality, rigorous small group instruction using one engaging text for all learners. The structure of the text is broken in short chunks, with built-in Pause and Think boxes, which make reading rigorous text manageable for all learners. The text-dependent questions provide lots of opportunities for teacher and student discourse and give students opportunities to explain their thinking. Our students have said they really like the interesting topics in the books. They also commented that the way the text is organized into small sections makes them feel successful when they are reading the text. The books also have a skill target connected to the CCSS that breaks down how to understand and complete the skill over the course of three lessons using a gradual release model. Close reading, text-dependent questions, small-group student-led discourse, and written response to text — this program has it all!

Michelle Dupuis
Literacy Coach
Natchaug School

  • “Reading like this makes us have Bubble Gum brain — we answer challenging and harder questions and when you think, your brain grows bigger and bigger.”
    Grade 3 student
    Natchaug School

  • “When we talked about it, we learned more and we got more into the story because we come up with different ideas and share with each other — they were ideas that other people didn’t have.”
    Grade 3 student
    Natchaug School

According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, we have a declared 66.8% high needs population, 50.8 % first language not English, and 44.2% economically disadvantaged population.

I specifically liked the poetry unit of Dr. Boyles’ Capstone Series. The exposure to figurative language worked well for me to explain and my students enjoyed the study of poetry very much. Many of them are using more figurative language now in their writing as a result.

Thank you,

Allison McGowan
Grade 4 Teacher
Clifford H. Marshall Elementary School

The Close Reading Program developed by Dr. Nancy Boyles has been a great addition to our third-grade reading classes. The texts have exposed students to interesting and engaging topics, such as, Extraordinary Animals. The organization of the texts have also been beneficial to the development of the students in our small group instruction during reading centers. I feel that these texts are great for even struggling readers because the information is set up in small sections, which seems manageable for them. Also, the, Pause and Think, feature within the texts encourages myself and the students to reflect on what we are reading as we are engaged in it. It allows students to have time to ask questions and make connections to the text. Because of this, we have had some wonderful conversations about the topics. In one particular instance, I had a student so interested in the Komodo Dragon that they spent their computer block doing additional research on the animal. It is wonderful to be using a program that keeps my students engaged in what they are reading!

Emily Gaeta
Grade 3 Teacher
Lincoln Hancock Community School

The Nancy Boyles Close Reading Trainings have been informative and useful to help us integrate more close reading into the classroom. It has been especially beneficial when using the small group books during literacy centers. The Close Reading Links books for small group instruction have brought up amazing questions and conversations about what we are reading. My group has been reading "Oceans Around the Globe" and they are loving it! It gives information about the oceans using rich vocabulary and provides the children with information they might not have known before. We have many students who come from low-income families so their background knowledge and exposure is not always the highest. We also have many EL students who are learning English as their second or third language. The photographs really engage the students and get them excited about what they're learning. I personally love pause and think tabs because they help my students manage and chunk the text so it's not too overwhelming. When we pause and think, we are able to dissect what we just read and clarify any questions before moving forward. Thank you for these wonderful books!

Ashley McCusker
Grade 3 Teacher
Lincoln-Hancock School
Quincy Public Schools