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Targeted Re-Reading

Targeted Re-Reading

Author: Sydney Bauer

This lesson explains targeted re-reading.

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It is almost impossible to gather all of the information you’ll need from a book or assigned reading by reading it once. You’ll need to go back and do a targeted re-reading.


Targeted re-reading is similar to reading a piece of writing with a specific purpose in mind, except you’ll have already read it at least once.


You’ve already read the book, section, chapter, passage, or even paragraph, and hopefully you took your time. Now it’s time to go back and re-read some or all of it


First, decide what it is you’re looking for.

Are you looking for a specific …

  • Event
  • Character/Characterization
  • Detail
  • Interaction/Exchange of dialogue
  • Shift in tone
  • Change in point of view
  • Change in setting
  • Progression of an idea (how does the topic get from A to L?)


Next, you'll want to make a note to yourself. It’s helpful to write down what you’re looking for on a post-it note or index card to keep in front of you while you are re-reading. You’ll also want to brainstorm some “watch words” that are associated with your specific topic and write those on your reminder note to keep you on track.


Finally, as you re-read, it’s likely that you’ll skim through the text until you start seeing your watch words, or find what you’re on the hunt for. Once you find what you’re looking for, you’ll need to switch from skimming to actively reading so that your attention is focused on your chosen subject.


Let’s look at a couple examples!

Example #1:

  • You’ve already read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451
  • You’ve been asked to analyze how Guy Montag is affected by Clarisse’s disappearance.
  • You decide the best way to do this is by comparing his state of mind and behavior from before and after her disappearance.
  • Your reminder note might say something like: 


  • You’ll want to think of some “hot spots” to watch for as you skim through the book: places where you think you’re most likely to find good examples of Guy’s state of mind or behavior.
  • As you skim through the book, make sure you are only collecting details that are directly related to your chosen focus (this is where that reminder note comes in handy!).


Example #2:

  • You’ve already read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451
  • You’ve been asked to choose and analyze a character/characterization from the book.
  • You’ve chosen to analyze the Mechanical Hound.
  • Your reminder note might say something like: 


  • You’ll want to skim through the entire book looking for any reference to, mention of, or appearance of the Mechanical Hound. Whenever it appears in the text, you’ll slow down to actively read and analyze those areas of the text. 

Targeted Re-Reading