Reading Responses: An Inventory of Moves


Character analysis: What do we know about particular characters? How do they behave? What are they doing? Why are they doing it? What motivates them? How do they compare to one another? How do they change or grow?

Diction: What particular words or phrases seem most significant or surprising or confusing?

Imagery: What images does the author use? How do those images convey meaning or shape the feeling of what is being described?

Syntax: How are the sentences constructed? Which sentences seem to stand out? How? Why?

Setting: How does the setting shape the events of the story? What does it reveal about the characters, about the culture they live in, about the author’s view of the world?

Conflict: What tensions are present within the piece? Within the characters? Between the characters? What is being contested? What is at stake?

Theme: What ideas are illustrated in the text? How is the particular situation being described indicative of a larger set of issues?

Cultural background: What does the text reveal about the culture in which it is set? Which aspects of FREEPA (family, religion, education, economics, politics, and arts) are emphasized? Which are deemphasized or ignored?

Passages: Which passages seem especially relevant or significant? Which passages convey most clearly the important ideas? Where is the writing at its best or most effective? What makes it that way?

Structures (Beginnings, endings, turns, epiphanies): What are the observable structural elements in the text? How many parts are there? How are they related to one another? Where does one part end and the next begin? Where is there a surprise? What points of view are represented? How are they signaled? How does the title relate to the rest of the text? What does the title tell you about the way the author intends the text to be read?

Repetitions, Patterns, Motifs: Which repetitions (of ideas, images, words, even objects) can be seen as part of a pattern? What’s the logic of the pattern? What might the pattern represent or symbolize or emphasize?

Paraphrase: How would you state the main idea of the passage in your own words?

Compare/contrast: What do you see in the text that reminds you of something else inside or outside of the text? How are those two things the same? How are they different?

Reader response: What goes in your mind as you think about a particular passage? What do you feel? What do you like or dislike? What else does it remind you of? How does it connect to the world you live in, the life you are living? What questions does the text create in your mind? What answers suggest themselves?

Contexts/intertexts: How does the context shape your understanding what you are observing? In what other texts have you seen something similar? How does your previous experience other texts help shape your understanding of this one?

Observations, Inferences, Questions: What do you know for sure? What can you make reasonable guesses about? What remains open to question?

Persuasion: Is there a case that you can make about an arguable point, a thesis?

Reading as Writers: What can you infer about what decisions the writer must have made to produce this piece of writing. If you wanted to write a piece of writing like this, what would you need to do?

The Sideways Move: How else could you look at this test? What would someone who sees it differently than you do have to say? Assuming everything you’ve seen so far is true, what is important that you are still not seeing?