Critical Analysis Text Suggestions

Updated: Oct 28, 2018

When I wrote about my Critical Analysis Boot Camp for the first time (see that post HERE) I was only a couple days into teaching it. Now that I have completed it, I have to say that I will NEVER go back to teaching text annotation and analysis the way I used to!

Front-loading students with skills and tools to annotate and analyze ANY KIND OF TEXT at the beginning of my course is the way to go!

My first post is all about the process I used to directly teach close reading various types of text with students, and then how students practice what they have learned.

[If you would like this whole lesson, complete with a Google Slide presentation for teaching and student practice, task cards, assessment rubric, and my analysis and annotation cheat sheets, click HERE.]

Whether you plan to make your own lessons or use ideas from mind, take a look below at some text ideas that work well for students.

Here are the texts I used with my students:

Sample Text 1 -

“Examining the reasons for increase in teen suicides, possible solutions”

By USA Today, adapted by Newsela staff, 05/08/2018

This is an article originally from USA Today and adapted by Newsela to various reading lexiles. I gave my 10th grade students the 1070 level text and the text was accessible to all.

Sample Text 2 -


From NBC’s World of Dance, performed by Sean Lew and Kaycee Rice, 05/08/2018

This is a video of a performance from the NBC show World of Dance. It is just about 1:25 and has SO MUCH symbolism throughout it! My students wanted to watch it over and over and over...

Visual Art -

I chose the following pieces for students to choose one:

  • The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali

  • American Gothic, Grant Wood

  • The Son of Man, Rene Magritte

  • The Two Fridas, Frida Kahlo

  • The Starry Night, Vincent VanGogh

Short Stories -

All of the following stories are available through my school’s literature textbook, but I’m sure they couldn’t be too hard to find:

  • “Harrison Bergeron” Kurt Vonnegut

  • “No Witchcraft for Sale” Doris Lessing

  • “The Pit and the Pendulum” Edgar Allan Poe

  • “The Witness for the Prosecution” Agatha Christie

  • “Sweet Potato Pie” Eugenia Collier

Songs -

For each of the songs below, I provided students with a link to a YouTube video that shows the song’s lyrics as it plays:

  • ““We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel

  • “Mean” by Taylor Swift

  • “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

  • “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer

Film Clips -

For each of the films below, I found a clip on YouTube (Fandango’s channel has great clips!) and gave students the link - I was careful to make sure that any PG-13 or above material was not present in each clip:

  • “Mean Girls,” directed by Mark Waters

  • “Crazy Rich Asians,” directed by Jon M. Chu

  • “Twilight: New Moon,” directed by Chris Weltz

  • “Wonder Woman,” directed by Patty Jenkins

  • “500 Days of Summer,” directed by Marc Webb

Essays/Articles -

For the selection of essays and articles, I simply perused the selection on the Newsela website - I love how easy it is to switch around between lexile levels for each piece of writing they have. I chose 5 different pieces that were all approximately 3 pages in length, made sure to have varying lexile levels, and chose subject matters with which I thought my students would connect.

I shared my Google Slide presentation for this mini-unit with my students so they could follow along as I taught the introduction to the lesson and demonstrated through a think-aloud how to analyze each of the sample texts. I also included links to all of their choices of each type of text, as well as images of the task card for each type of text, within the same presentation so everything was in one place.

One thing that became apparent as I set my students free for their independent practice was the huge variation in how much time it takes some students to complete these analyses versus other students. Allowing them access to the entire slide presentation and all materials I used for teaching made it so that students were pretty independent. While I got the occasional clarification question on a task card, most students were able to complete their assignment with very little additional guidance from me. Aaaaaaand those who were unable to finish their work during class had everything they could possibly need to finish at home only a few clicks away!

What texts you do use for teaching close reading? Traditional? Non-traditional? Share the experience and wealth of knowledge in the comments below!

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