Friday, June 17, 2011


This is a term that I've been hearing more and more of lately. At first I discounted it as something that is beyond my students. But the more that I learned about intertextuality, the more that I realized that it is relevant and important for all readers--and pretty fun, also.

What is intertextuality? Simply put, it's the way that readers can make connections between texts. But intertextuality is more than making a chart to compare texts. When we think intertextually, we look for components that go across texts. When my youngest son looks at the Elephant and Piggie books to find the pigeon that Mo Willems puts on the last pages, that's intertextual thinking. When my older son talks about the differences between Egyptian and Greek mythology (as expressed in Rick Riordan's books), that's intertextual thinking. Intertextual thinking can also be looking at patterns of events across stories, or looking at how authors have chosen to convey ideas about the same topic in different ways.

Here is a more exhaustive description of intertextuality:

If you prefer learning through video, you may enjoy this:

Intertextuality is really nothing new--it's just giving a name to what's been there all along. But the importance of intertextual thinking means that our readers need to have access to some of the big stories and themes. This year, I'll be thinking about how to equip students with the background knowledge they need to make these intertextual connections.

In the Common Core Standards, fourth graders are expected to "Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures." This is a lot different from the "find one similarity and two differences"  that has been the expectation up to now. I'll be doing a lot of thinking about how to build this into my next school year!

Other posts about comparing texts and intertextual thinking:

Comparing Texts

Comparing Texts: Narrative and Blog

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