Building Comprehension: Asking Questions While Reading

I often hear teachers and parents comment that they have a child who is great at calling the words (decoding), but they have no idea what they have read.  Being a proficient reader involves both decoding the words and comprehending what has been read.  One strategy for building comprehension, when reading, is to ask questions.

Read-alouds are the perfect format for modeling the questioning strategy.  There are three opportune times to ask questions when reading- before, during and after.

Full Disclosure:  Zoobean has provided a subscription for my review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Questioning is a great strategy for building reading comprehension from

What are the Benefits of Asking Questions?

Asking Questions BEFORE Reading

  • builds background knowledge
  • allows new vocabulary to be planted
  • engages the reader/listener with the text
  • lays the groundwork for comprehension

Asking Questions DURING Reading

  • helps to monitor comprehension break-downs
  • keeps the reader/listener engaged with the text

Asking Questions AFTER Reading

  • allows for reflection and analysis
  • assesses comprehension
  • extends thinking and literacy development

What Does Asking Questions While Reading Sound Like?

There are two types of questions- closed and open-ended.  Closed questions usually have only one correct answer and can be answered in just a few words or phrases.  For example, “Where did the story take place?”.  Open-ended questions allow for reflection and/or analysis.  They generally open the door for conversation.  For example, “How did the setting of this story impact choices the characters made?”.

Here are some general examples of open-ended questions that can be asked for each stage of questioning.

Questions to Ask BEFORE Reading

  • What do you think this story will be about?  Why do you think that?  (do this after the child has had a chance to look at the cover of the book and title)
  • What do you already know about the topic of this book?

Questions to Ask DURING Reading

  • What questions do you have as you are reading/listening?
  • What do you think is going to happen next?  Why?

Questions to Ask AFTER Reading

  • What are you wondering about?
  • Why do you think the author chose to end the story the way he/she did?

As a caregiver, it’s always convenient to have questions that relate to a specific book.  Zoobean is a helpful resource just for that!  I’ve talked about my love of Zoobean before.  They offer wonderful book subscription packages tailored to your child’s interests and needs.  Each book is accompanied by a reading guide that includes specific questions to ask before, during and after reading the selection.  Even if you don’t want to have a book delivered to your door, you can still subscribe just to the reading guide portion.  That way you can find the book at the library and still use their helpful reading guide.

Through our ongoing modeling of this questioning comprehension strategy, children will begin to internalize the strategy and use it independently when they read.

About Jodie Rodriguez

Jodie Rodriguez is a mom of two young boys and an early childhood/elementary educator with over 18 years of experience. Jodie's passion is helping parents, teachers, librarians and anyone else interested in nurturing our youngest readers.


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