Friday, July 5, 2013

Questions to Help Kids Read, Think and Write

Questions to Help Kids Read, Think and Write
by Susan Stephenson,

One of the many wonderful things about fiction reading is that it isn't a passive entertainment. It encourages children to visualise settings, characters and plot. It helps develop kids' imaginations and fuels their dreams. Reading not only contributes to vocabulary and knowledge acquisition, it also builds empathy, allowing kids to walk a mile in someone else's shoes.

To help our kids become more active readers, one thing we can do is share our own process of thinking about our reading with them. However, sometimes children need a little guidance in thinking about what they've read themselves, especially if they're going to respond to it. Schools might ask that responses take the form of writing a book review, or a non-traditional alternative to a book report, and we can help kids tease out that response by encouraging them to ask and answer questions about their reading.

Here are some question examples to get you and your children/students started:

* Which book character would you want as your best friend?

* What if that character had been smaller/taller/braver (somehow different), how would that have impacted the story?

* What do we know so far about this character? How do we know that? What can we tell about this character from her actions? From what she says? From what others say about her?

* Does the main character change throughout the book? How?

* What book that you've read would you like to share with a five-year-old? Why? How did that book make you feel?

* Have you ever read a book where you didn't like the ending? Write to the author explaining why, and suggest a different ending.

* (At the end of a chapter or book in a series) What do you think might happen next? What might be another problem for the hero?

* Was there anything in this story that reminded you of something or someone you know?

* What was the funniest/scariest/most dramatic/most unforgettable part of the story?

You might also be interested in Questions to Promote Visual Literacy and Creative Thinking for Kids.


  1. Anonymous06 July, 2013

    I love this type of question, though I confess I hated them when I was a child doing a report because they really made me think long and hard.

    1. Agreed, Barbara - but I'm glad of it now!

  2. Questions are so powerful. Consider putting them on bookmarks. Here are some more:

    When you finish reading, think about…

    1. What was the main idea of the story?
    2. Describe the characters, their traits, and how they interact with each other in this story.
    3. Why do you think (pick an event) happened that way?
    4. What do you think the author’s message was in writing this piece? Do you agree with it?
    5. What problem did the character face in the story? How did the character feel about the problem?
    6. What do you think would happen next if the book continued?
    7. What words or phrases did the author use that made vivid images in your mind?

  3. Love the bookmark idea, Janet! And thanks for adding value to my post with your extra questions. I especially like the one about vivid images.

  4. Hi, can i ask you something? You seem to know a lot about children books and illustrations. The thing is, I’m looking for children books with “scary” animal illustrations like the big bad wolf (or a fox) eating pigs (or seven kids or Red Riding hood or birds in Chicken Little) or being pictured with a fat stomach. Could be any other animal as well. I need it for my research. Any sort of help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    1. What country are you in? That matters if you plan to access a physical copy of a book. Or are you only interested in "looking" at a cover online?

    2. Thanks for your answer, Susan. There's no need to worry about that, it's my concern how to access a copy of a book. All I want to know at this point is the author, the illustrator and the title of such children books. Thanks again.

    3. Okay.

      Open Very Carefully by Nick Bromley and Nicola O'Byrne
      Yummy by Lucy Cousins
      Sidekicks by Dan Santat
      Chambres Noires by Bleys and Dumont
      The Big Bad Wolf and Robo Pig by North and Cross

  5. Brilliant questions thank you. Always nice to have a few extra ideas in my 'toolbox' as I read to my kiddos!

  6. Ah, you have a toolbox, too, Caitlin? What would we parents do without them?! Thanks for commenting and happy reading with those kiddos!

  7. It is always good to know that there are posts like this that can emphasize of importance of reading and writing. Interesting questions and details. By the way, I'm taking notes of those book suggestions too. At early age, I've been teaching my kids through Hooked On Phonics which is a great way of letting them familiarize and help them get started in reading.

    1. I think phonics can really help children decode new words and is invaluable as a tool for spelling, paigh.


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