One of the first strategies I use to help students focus their reading is The Five Facts of Fiction. Throughout the year, it's a strategy I expose my students to several times over to analyze works of fiction.
With The Five Facts of Fiction, students can follow how an author develops a character over the course of a text. This strategy allows students to keep track of a character's physical and emotional traits, what his/her motivations are, and whether or not this character's motivations allow him/her to change. We also use it to pay close attention to plot, theme, and setting.
Reading Strategy and Prewriting Tool
Before I introduce my students to this stragey, they must read about a quarter of their books (or more) to be able to answer the first two Facts of Fiction. Somewhere between pages 25 and 30 it's time to start putting this strategy to work for us.