On savvy reading

Mark Dressman, Dingxin Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay uses the metaphor of “savvy travelling” to discuss the limitations and problems associated with three current “best practice” approaches to the reading of literature in upper grade levels, particularly in the United States: close reading, response-based reading, and disciplinary literacy. A “savvy” approach to reading and reading instruction combines close attention to the text, readers’ intuitive responses, and concepts from cognitive science, cultural studies, and literary theory in a narrative approach that identifies and compares the story in the text to the story of the text. Two examples from classroom practice are presented and analyzed to identify elements of savoir faire in each. Identification of these elements leads to a method of savvy reading whose goal is to produce students who will become savvy world travellers of texts on their own: readers who are autonomous, flexible, and able to read carefully and responsibly across a wide range of contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-173
Number of pages13
JournalEnglish in Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • New Criticism
  • Reader Response
  • close reading
  • disciplinary literacy
  • new Cambridge criticism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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