Close Reading of an Advertisement

Close Reading of an Advertisement

Today, I’m looking at a simple advertisement as a way of introducing close reading. An ad can be used as an effective illustration of the layers of meaning in a picture or text.

One way to do close reading is to have the kids read the text three times, focusing on a different aspect each time.  For example:

  1. On the first reading, concentrate on the main idea and the details.
  2. On the second reading, focus on the organization of the text and understanding the vocabulary.
  3. On the third reading, address the theme and the author’s craft.

Take a look at this advertisement for a hamburger restaurant.  Can you see the three layers here, too?

full image copy

Here is what students might note on a first “reading.”  The restaurant is called Burger Surprise and it offers burgers, sides, and desserts.

main idea and details copy

On a second “reading,” they might notice that the illustrator used a grid of bright yellow boxes to organize the advertisement.  With a text passage, you would look at the text structure here – sequential order, cause and effect, or whatever.  This is also a logical time to make sure that the students understand the vocabulary (savory, Jalapeno, distinguished).

organization and vocabulary

Finally, on a third “reading,” students look at the author’s (or illustrator’s) craft.  In addition to the graphic elements, they will note the descriptive vocabulary (Simply Sautéed Mushrooms, Mad Mozzarella Sticks).  Students might speculate as to why certain descriptive words (uncommon, Grandma’s) were chosen.  And now it’s time to put it all together and find the theme.  As with many advertisements, this one is practically spelled out for us – “Eat at Burger Surprise every day.”

theme, author's craft

Using a picture or an advertisement is one way to introduce close reading that should get the kids’ interested!  It’s a good way to start or refocus on close reading, which can be a difficult process for kids to use effectively.

If you are looking for some in-depth close reading lessons, check out these resources from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Each one includes everything needed for a full three readings including an original reading passage and student printables.


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