Reading Lexicon: A Guide for Reading Across the Curriculum


Alliteration: The repetition of initial consonant sounds in neighboring words.

Allusion: An implied or indirect reference in literature to a familiar person, place or event.
Analysis: The process or result of identifying the parts of a whole and their relationships to one another.

Author’s Purpose: the author’s reason for writing. Authors can use singular or multiple purposes. The most common purposes are:
To inform
To entertain
To persuade

Cause and Effect: A cause is a reason why something happens. An effect is the result of the cause.

Characterization - the method used by a writer to develop a character. The method includes (1) showing the character's appearance, (2) displaying the character's actions, (3) revealing the character's thoughts, (4) letting the character speak, and (5) getting the reactions of others.

Chronological Order: events in the text are arranged in the order in which they occurred. Chronological order tells what happens first, next, and last. Look for clue words or phrases such as: “yesterday”, “next”, “then”, “finally”, “at last”.

Compare /Contrast: the text shows how things are alike (compare) or how things are different (contrast). Look for words that show compare or contrast, such as “similar”, “better”, “more”, “less”, “unlike”.

Context Clues: words or phrases that are used near an unknown word and can help the reader to understand the meaning of an unknown word in the text.
Definition: Example: We went to the stern section of the boat, or the rear of the boat.
Synonym: a word that means the same as another word.
Antonym: a word that means the opposite of another word.

Evaluate: Examine and judge carefully.

Fact and Opinion: Fact is something that can be proven with evidence that is usually found in textbooks, newspapers, news programs, and academic web sources. Opinion is a statement that cannot be proven to be true or false. Key words can indicate the difference between fact and opinion: feeling words such as: “believe”, “think”, “feel”, “suggest” or judgment words such as: “beautiful”, “ugly”, “great”, “amazing”.

Figurative Language: words used to enhance description and that do not mean what they actually say. As follows are the most commonly used figures of speech:
Idiom: A widely used expression that may not be literally true but is clearly understood by native speakers of the language. Ten more pages, and you’ve got it licked.
Simile: an explicit comparison between two things using 'like' or 'as'.
*My love is as a fever, longing still for that which longer nurseth the disease”, Shakespeare, Sonnet CXLVII

Metaphor: - A figure of speech that contains an implied comparison. Metaphors do not rely upon as, like, or than. “Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage. “Shakespeare, Macbeth
Personification: The giving of human characteristics to other living creatures or things.
“England expects every man to do his duty.” Lord Nelson
Hyperbole: Hyperbole is exaggeration or overstatement. I'm so hungry I could eat a horse.

Focus: The center of interest or attention.

Genre: A category used to classify literary works, usually by form, technique or content (e.g., prose, poetry).

Graphic organizer: A diagram or pictorial device that shows relationships.

Homophone: One of two or more words pronounced alike, but different in spelling or
meaning (e.g., hair/hare, scale (fish)/scale (musical)).

Imagery - The figurative language of a work or sensory details used by writers Imagery is language that evokes one or all of the five senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching - in an attempt to create a picture in the minds of readers.

Inferences and Conclusions: An inference is a guess that is based on evidence from the text.
A conclusion is an opinion or decision about what is happening in a passage and can be based upon one or more inferences.

Irony: The use of a word or phrase to mean the exact opposite of its literal or usual
meaning; incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the expected
result.

Jargon – The special language of a profession or group. The term jargon usually indicates negative associations, with the implication that jargon is evasive, tedious, and unintelligible to outsiders. The writings of the lawyer and the literary critic are both susceptible to jargon.

Literary elements: The essential techniques used in literature (e.g., characterization, setting, plot, theme).

Literary devices: Tools used by the author to enliven and provide voice to the writing (e.g., dialogue, alliteration).

Literary structures: The author’s method of organizing text (e.g., foreshadowing, flashbacks).

Main Idea and Details
The main idea is the most important idea in a paragraph or passage.
The topic sentence states the main idea in a paragraph.
Supporting details expand the main idea and topic sentence by explaining, describing, giving examples or proof.

Plot: The arrangement of events in a story. All plots contain a conflict and a resolution. The conflict is the problem or challenge that the main character or characters face. The resolution is how the conflict is solved and ended.

Point of View: refers to who is telling the story. Sometimes the author tells the story or sometimes one of the characters in the story tells the story. To determine a story’s point of view, ask yourself, “Who is telling the story?”
First Person: Indicated by pronouns “I”, “us”, “we”.
Second Person: Indicated by the pronoun “you”.
Third Person: Indicated by the pronouns “he”, “she”, “them”.
Third Person Limited: When the writer can get into only the thoughts of one character in the story.
Third Person Omniscient: When the writer can get into the thoughts of all of the characters in a story.

Prediction and Generalization: A prediction is a guess on what will happen next based on information that has already been given. A generalization is a broad conclusion based on specific information that has already been given.

Problem/Solution: The text is divided into two parts: one part presents a problem, and the other part gives the solution to the problem. Look for words like "problem," "solution," "solve," and "plan."

Reading critically: Reading in which a questioning attitude, logical analysis and inference
are used to judge the worth of text; evaluating relevancy and adequacy of what is read; the
judgment of validity or worth of what is read based on sound criteria.

Reading rate: The speed at which a person reads, usually silently.

Research: A systematic inquiry into a subject or problem in order to discover, verify or revise relevant facts or principles having to do with that subject or problem.

Satire: A literary tone used to ridicule or make fun of human vice or weakness.

Self-monitor: Know when what one is reading or writing is not making sense; adjust strategies for comprehension.


Semantics: The study of meaning in language.

Setting: Where and when a story takes place.

Style: The distinct vocabulary and syntax of a particular writer.

Symbol – Any image, object, person, or event that evokes a meaning other than itself. American flag represents freedom.

Summary and Paraphrase: A summary is a brief retelling of a passage that includes both the main idea and the most important details. A writer must paraphrase when writing a summary. A paraphrase is a restatement in the reader’s own words to prevent plagiarism.

Syntax: The pattern or structure of word order in sentences, clauses and phrases.

Text Features: these are features the writer utilizes to call attention to key ideas. Text features include: titles, headings, subheadings to point out the main ideas or main parts of a passage; bold, italics, or all caps to emphasize key words or key points; pictures, illustrations, charts, diagrams, tables, graphics to provide visual explanations and to add entertainment value; numbered or bulleted lists to break complex ideas down into simple components.

Theme: A topic of discussion or writing; a major idea broad enough to cover the entire scope of a literary work.

Thesis - The position a writer wishes to prove or support. The thesis statement within a multi-paragraph piece of writing established the focus of the entire piece. It is usually always presented in the introductory paragraph.

Tone – The writer’s attitude on the subject expressed through word choice.

Topic Sentence - The sentence that states, directly or indirectly, the topic to be developed in further detail in a paragraph or sequence of paragraphs.

Voice: The fluency, rhythm and liveliness in writing that make it unique to the writer.