A photograph of a highlighted text.

Source: Highlights of DS106, Brian Metcalfe, Flickr

Now that you’ve answered the questions for both texts, how do you keep two texts in your head at the same time and think about similar or different purposes? Even if the purposes are similar, authors may use different methods to achieve the same purpose. Let’s think about the two texts you read in the previous section. In the first one, the author uses her own camping experience to begin the essay and then explains that kids are allowed to be kids when at camp. In the second text, the author chooses to use more research about the benefits of nature to explain the importance of summer camps. Both texts are about summer camps. Both explain the benefits, but they explain different aspects.

When you read a text and compare it to another text, you are reading intertextually. Connecting your reading to other texts adds value because you’re connecting what you’re reading to more information about the same topic. How do you do this as you’re reading? You start by having a conversation with yourself about other texts you have read previously that connect to the text you’re reading currently.

Here’s some help to get you started. The first step is to read and annotate. This way, when you go back to the texts a second or third time, you can read them faster because you will have made notes on the texts and in the margins. Let’s talk about how to annotate. You may already know how to annotate as you read, but if you don’t, you may want to review the English I lesson Annotating for Meaning if you have access to that course. To annotate the two texts you are about to read, follow these simple directions:

  1. Read the shorter or the easier text first without annotating.
  2. Read the longer or more difficult text next, annotating it with the first one in mind.
  3. Finally, return to the first text and annotate it thoroughly.

The chart below will help you as you continue to improve your annotation skills.

Tools Techniques Information to Mark
Highlighters in a variety of colors Highlighting Title, subtitle, headings, author’s name, information about the author, captions that explain images
Colored pencils Underlining (straight and squiggly lines) Unfamiliar words
Pens in a variety of colors Boxing and circling Main ideas
Sticky notes Enclosing information in [brackets] and (parentheses) Important details
Photocopies of pages from textbooks, library books, and books you have borrowed from others (in other words, books you can’t mark) Numbering (1, 2, 3) and/or lettering (a, b, c) important points Using icons (e.g., smiley faces or stars) to mark important details or to express your reaction to the text ☆ ☺
Drawing arrows to connect related ideas → Steps in a process
Examples of literary devices or rhetorical devices
The “5 Ws”: who, what, where, when, and why

Click the link to download a graphic organizer and follow the instructions to practice reading and annotating two texts. You can save, download, and print this file. When you are finished, go to the next section and answer a few questions about your reading. Graphic Organizer Instructions