Finding Evidence in a Reading Passage: Strategies & Examples

Instructor: Tommi Waters

TK Waters has a bachelor's degree in literature and religious studies and a master's degree in religious studies and teaches Hebrew Bible at Western Kentucky University.

In this lesson, we will discuss a few strategies for finding evidence in a reading passage. It is important to find evidence in reading passages for the purpose of answering question prompts and supporting a claim.

What is Evidence?

Have you ever written an essay about a story, only to realize that you are not sure how to support claims being made about the text? A claim or argument about any idea in the text should have supporting evidence. Evidence is essential to an author creating a strong argument or claim. All texts, or reading passages, contain evidence. There are many types of evidence, too. Evidence can be found in both fiction texts--such as novels, poems, or short stories--as well as in non-fiction texts like biographies or scientific articles. A nonfiction author might include statistical data, expert opinions, or specialized knowledge to support claims, while finding evidence in fiction involves finding supporting dialogue and interactions between characters to support ideas. Good readers are able to cite evidence by including a quotation, or exact sentences from the text, or paraphrasing the author's words or ideas.

In this lesson, we will focus on finding evidence in a fiction passage, but finding evidence in non-fiction texts follow the same steps. No matter what kind of text you are examining, follow these important steps as strategies:

1) Read and understand the question or claim.

2) Closely read the text to find the answer.

3) Note inferences and quotations from the passage that support the answer or claim.

4) Analyze the evidence. How does this textual evidence support a claim or idea from the passage? What makes this evidence strong?

5) Cite the evidence by including quotations of the excerpted text or by using these phrases:

- According to the text, _____

- On page _____, the author stated

- One example of this from the text is _____

What Makes Strong Evidence?

An important strategy in finding evidence in a reading passage is understanding what makes the evidence 'strong.' Supporting evidence is strong when it clearly connects to the question and the answer. When reading a passage and selecting specific evidence, ask yourself 'How does this quotation support the question and answer?' The same piece of evidence may also be used to support other claims as well. Text is rich, so it is important to read closely and analyze both the question and the answer carefully before concluding that the evidence is supportive and strong.

Finding Evidence in a Reading Passage

Now that we have discussed how to find evidence in a passage, let's practice! Take a few minutes to read the following passage from Lois Lowry's 'The Giver.'

''Jonas frowned. 'The whole world?' he asked. 'I don't understand. Do you mean not just us? Not just the community? Do you mean Elsewhere, too?' He tried, in his mind, to grasp the concept. 'I'm sorry, sir. I don't understand exactly. Maybe I'm not smart enough. I don't know what you mean when you say 'the whole world' or 'generations before him.' I thought there was only us. I thought there was only now.'''

Now, read this question:

Which evidence from the text supports the idea that Jonas does not know about the physical world outside of his community?

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