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Critical Analysis: Questioning the Author/Questioning the Book

Discerning readers are critical of what they read. They recognize that not all published texts are necessarily quality pieces of literature. They realize that authors bring their biases to their writing. They know that written texts often contain errors. Many students have not yet reached the point where they are comfortable about, or see the need, to question what they read. When students are provided with opportunities and strategies to question and evaluate what they read, they will be engaged in purposeful and meaningful analyses with the end result of their becoming more knowledgeable, critical, effective readers and learners.

What Does It Mean to Question the Book or Author?

When we talk about questioning the author or book, we are first speaking about a particular state of mind-- a willingness to doubt the accepted truth of the printed word and the absolute authority of the writer. Questioning means drawing on previous reading experiences to reflect on a text's meaning, its effectiveness, and its quality.

What are Some Different Approaches to Critical Analysis?

Students should be encouraged to take different approaches in their critical analyses. They might question the author's craft.

Students might also question the author.

Or, students might question the text itself.

Subject specific questions are also effective ways to do a critical analysis. Jeanne Reardon suggests questions specifically geared toward science-related books.

Why Have Students Question the Author and Books?

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 9912078. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.