Text-to-Text, Text-to-Self, Text-to-World Teaching Strategy | Facing History & Ourselves
A close-up of an open book in someone's hands
Teaching Strategy

Text-to-Text, Text-to-Self, Text-to-World

Use text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world comparisons to help students connect ideas in a text to their own lives, current events, and history.


At a Glance

teaching-strategy copy
Teaching Strategy


English — US


  • English & Language Arts
  • History
  • Social Studies




What Is the Text-to-Text, Text-to-Self, Text-to-World Strategy?

Reading comes alive when we recognize how the ideas in a text connect to our experiences and beliefs, events happening in the larger world, our understanding of history, and our knowledge of other texts. The Text-to-Text, Text-to-Self, Text-to-World strategy helps students develop the habit of making these connections as they read. When students are given a purpose for their reading, they are able to better comprehend and make meaning of the ideas in the text.

What Is Text-to-Text?

A text-to-text connection relates the ideas in a text to another text. The texts students connect could be stories, books, movies, songs, or other types of media. 

What Is Text-to-Self?

A text-to-self connection ties the ideas in a text to a student’s own life, ideas, and experiences. 

What Is Text-to-World?

A text-to-world connection relates a text to events in the larger world: the past, present, and future. 

When to Use This Strategy

You can use this strategy with any type of text, historical or literary, and with other media, such as film. It can be used at the beginning, middle, or end of the reading process to get students engaged with a text, to help students understand the text more deeply, or to evaluate students’ understanding of the text.


Save this resource for easy access later.

Save resources to create collections for your class or to review later. It's fast, easy, and free!
Have a Workspace already? Log In


How to Use the Text-to-Text, Text-to-Self, Text-to-World Strategy

This strategy works best with a text that raises universal themes that might resonate with students’ own experiences and with material they have studied previously. Teachers often give students their own copy of the text so that they can mark it up, although this is not required.

The accompanying handout to this strategy provides you with sample questions that you can give students to guide them through this activity. The questions in the directions are general, but you can make them specific to the material your class is studying. For example, you might ask students to connect what they read to specific texts or to events you have studied earlier in the school year.

Students gain a deeper understanding of the text, of their classmates, and of the world around them when they have the opportunity to discuss their responses with peers. Students can share their responses with a partner (see the Think-Pair-Share teaching strategy), in small groups (see the Assigning Roles teaching strategy), or as part of a larger discussion (see the Fishbowl teaching strategy).

Variations on Text-to-Text, Text-to-Self, and Text-to-World

If you have limited time, you can give students the option of writing about one connection they have found between the text and another text, their lives, or the larger world.

Social maps are a visual way of showing relationships between people, but they can also be used to show relationships between ideas and events. An extension of this activity would be to have students draw the connections they find between a text and other ideas, events, or experiences. Students can work on these maps in groups, noting the relationships among their responses.

You might also be interested in…

Unlimited Access to Learning. More Added Every Month.

Facing History & Ourselves is designed for educators who want to help students explore identity, think critically, grow emotionally, act ethically, and participate in civic life. It’s hard work, so we’ve developed some go-to professional learning opportunities to help you along the way.

Using the strategies from Facing History is almost like an awakening.
— Claudia Bautista, Santa Monica, Calif