Questions to Ask while Reading with Your Child

Did you know that a major part of reading comprehension for both fiction and nonfiction is questioning? Fiction is a book that tells a story and has story elements, while a nonfiction book is about real things and gives you facts. Depending on what you are reading, the questions will be different. Please refer to the questions below when helping your child read. Asking them these questions will give your child a better understanding of the text they are reading.


The main focus of a fiction text are the story elements.

                  1) Who are the characters?

                  2) What is the setting?

                  3) What is the conflict/problem in the story?

                  4) What is the resolution/solution?

                  5) What was the main idea? (What is the story mostly about?)

                  6) What is the theme of the story? (What is the author telling me that will teach me a lesson or make a difference in my life?)

Once your child can identify all the story elements, the focus can be to dig deeper, using the following questions:

                  1) What is the sequence (order of events)?

                  2) What connections do you have to this text (text-to-self, text-to-text, text-to-world)?

                  3) Can you summarize the text?

                  4) Can you determine important and unimportant details in the book? (You know it is an important detail if you remove it from the story and it changes one of the story elements or the story no longer makes sense.)


Before reading, look at all the nonfiction text features. Discuss whether the book has any of the following features, why the author may have included them, and how they will help you better understand the text.

  • Table of Contents
  • Index
  • Glossary
  • Photographs
  • Caption
  • Labels
  • Maps
  • Bold or italicized words
  • Tables
  • Diagrams
  • Headings or subheadings

If you are reading a nonfiction book about one of the following topics, use that list of questions to ask during and after reading:

    Living Thing

                  1) Where does it live?

                  2) What does it look like?

                  3) What does it eat?

                  4) How does it act?

                  5) How do people help or hurt it?


                  1) What did this person do to help others?

                  2) When and where did this person live?

                  3) What events happened to this person before becoming famous?


                  1) What plants or animals live there?

                  2) Why is it important?

                  3) Where is it located?

                  4) What does it look like?

                  5) Why is it important to me or other people?


                  1) Who did this event happen to?

                  2) When did it happen?

                  3) Where did it happen?

                  4) What happened?

                  5) Why is it important to me or other people?


                  1) How can it be described?

                  2) How does it work?

                  3) What is it made of or how is it transformed?

                  4) Who studies, discovers, or invents it?

                  5) Is it helpful or harmful to me?

It is also important to remind your child that nonfiction text is used to find facts and do research. Therefore, you do not necessarily have to read all of a nonfiction text. Teach your child to ask a question and then skim the book, using the text features to find the answer.

The next time your child is reading a book, fiction or nonfiction, you are now ready to ask them important questions that will help them understand the text!


Written by Kathleen Limbaugh, M.A.T. & NBCT.  Kathleen is a National Board Certified Teacher and you may read more about her here.

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