Determine the Central Ideas and Supporting Details
History and social studies texts often cite and summarize information from primary and secondary sources.
A primary source is a text that contains information provided by a person who experienced an event. Journals, letters, and interviews with eyewitnesses are types of primary sources. A primary source can also be information from the time being studied. Newspapers from the time and historical documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, are also types of primary sources.
Sometimes authors write about events or things that they did not witness or experience. These texts are called secondary sources. Secondary sources are based on primary sources. They often appear as magazine articles that contain information gathered by reporters and researchers. Books are another kind of secondary source when they are written by someone who did not witness an event.
The central idea of a primary or secondary source tells you what that text is mostly about. The supporting details help you understand the central idea.
Click the Model button to see an example of determining central idea and supporting details in a history text.