Boost student literacy skills with questions for reading comprehension.

Boost Student Literacy Skills with Questions for Reading Comprehension

One of the most effective strategies to enhance your students’ understanding of texts is asking the right questions for reading comprehension. This post will delve into several key areas that can boost your student’s comprehension levels, from understanding story structure to making inferences. Keep reading to discover a curated list of questions that can turn reading from a mere activity into a journey of deep understanding.

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Asking Questions For Reading Comprehension Strategy

Asking questions is a valuable way for children to demonstrate their understanding of what they have read.

Children show comprehension by responding to what they have read in ways that make sense. Expect them to react to what they have read through discussion and questioning. Consistently asking questions for reading comprehension helps the process become a habit, and children will read for meaning.

This post covers seven areas to support and extend a child’s understanding of what they are reading. Each section suggests a list of questions for reading comprehension you can use with students. The different areas are:

  • Story structure
  • Making Predictions
  • Author’s Purpose
  • Summarising
  • Making Connections
  • Self-Monitoring and Self-Correction
  • Inferring
A little girl looking at question marks on a wall.

1. Comprehension Questions about Story Structure

When exploring story structure with students, focus on the sequence of events. These questions will help children understand that events happen in a particular order, how they affect one another and what happens to the characters.

  • How do you know if this book is fiction or nonfiction?
  • How did the story start? How did it end? What happened in the middle?
  • Can you retell the story in order of events?
  • Where is the story set? How do you know?
  • What were the key events in the book?
  • Who is telling the story?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • How did the character’s actions affect the story?
  • What is the conflict or problem the characters must resolve? How did they do this?

2. Comprehension Questions about Making Predictions

You can ask questions before, during or after reading. Avoid limiting questions and making students self-conscious about guessing or predicting words while reading. The fewer distractions, the better! Use these questions for reading comprehension to prompt those students who may struggle with this skill.

  • What will happen next? How do you know?
  • Will the characters have to face any problems/conflicts? How do you know?
  • What do you think will happen at the end of the story? What makes you think this?
  • What do you think will happen if…?
  • What do you think the characters feel?
  • What is the character going to do next? How will their actions affect the story?
How where what who when.

3. Comprehension Questions about Author's Purpose

Considering the author’s purpose helps your students see stories from an objective perspective, not just their own personal one!

  • Why do you think the author chose to write this story? (For example, was it to inform, entertain, persuade?)
  • What message was the author trying to convey? How do you know?
  • Why do you think the author chose the setting of the story?
  • What is the author trying to tell us?
  • What do you think of the title? Did the author make a good choice? Why?

4. Comprehension Questions about Summarising

Summarising involves identifying important events in a text while ignoring all other information. Summarising could involve a verbal or written summary of the main points. 

Use these questions for reading comprehension to encourage students to recall critical parts of the text and as prompts for students who need more help remembering what they read.

  • What is the main idea of the story?
  • What happened in the story? Can you tell me what happened in order?
  • What do you think was the most important part of the story? Why?
  • Did something happen that changed the outcome of the story? Did you expect this?
  • What was the character’s mission? How did they achieve it?
  • Why did the character make this choice? Could they have made a better choice?
  • Why did [event] happen?
A group of children reading a book in a classroom.

5. Comprehension Questions About Making Connections

Children need to practice retelling stories in interesting and exciting ways. With practice, their connections will become more detailed. It is essential to pause when reading and give students time to think when making connections. These questions are another great strategy to help prompt children.

  • Does the story character remind you of anyone? Why?
  • Does this book remind you of any other books you have read?
  • How did the story make you feel, and why?
  • Did you learn anything from this story that you can use?
  • Does this story remind you of anything happening in the real world?
  • Make a connection to other books written by this author.

6. Comprehension Questions about Self-Monitoring and Self-Correction

Self-monitoring is when a reader notices their own reading errors. Self-correction is the ability to go back and fix those errors. 

When a child realises they have made a mistake, we want them to stop so they can develop a complete understanding of what they are reading. Use these questions for reading comprehension to develop these skills further.

  • Does that sound right?
  • Does it make sense?
  • Do the illustrations help you understand the story?
  • What parts of the story did you need help understanding?
  • What strategies could you use to help if you don’t understand something?
  • Why did you stop reading?
A teacher reading a book to children in a classroom.

7. Comprehension Questions about Inferring

Making inferences is a complex skill that takes time for students to master. It involves reading between the lines and using their knowledge to make plausible guesses. They will use multiple cues to develop their inferences as they read, leading to various answers. 

Use these questions for reading comprehension to help students read with a critical eye and improve their understanding of the text.

  • What was the message of the story?
  • What was the main feeling in the story (e.g. was it happy or sad)? How do you know this?
  • Why did the character choose to do _______? Why?
  • Did you agree when the character chose to ______?
  • Tell me about some of the emotions the characters experience.

Asking Questions For Reading Comprehension WIth Picture Books

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

Ada Twist scientific curiosity propels her to question, hypothesize, experiment, and unravel the world’s mysteries, including one close to home. Ada Twist, Scientist fuels discussions around the power of curiosity, the spirit of inquiry, the pursuit of knowledge, and the importance of creative thinking.

Alive Again by Ahmadreza Ahmadi

A boy notices the changing seasons and learns that things may die and disappear, but they also get reborn and renewed. Through his curiosity, he asks questions and discovers life is a continuous cycle, and even though things might end, they are always alive again in some form. 

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

The man leaves his family and ventures to an unknown city with unfamiliar customs, languages, and creatures. When he attempts to make the city his new home, he encounters kind strangers, each with their own immigration story, who help him adjust to his new environment. 

The Arrival, a wordless book, explores hope, empathy, acceptance, perseverance, and the search for belonging.

Avocado Asks: What Am I? by Momoko Abe

An avocado grapples with its identity after a customer’s question leaves it wondering whether it is a fruit or a vegetable. Avocado Asks: What Am I? opens conversations about the importance of questioning, developing a sense of identity, and being comfortable in one’s own skin.

The Boring Book by Shinsuke Yoshitake

A young boy feels bored with his toys and begins to ponder the concept of boredom. He discovers that boredom is not merely a state of inactivity but an opportunity to ask questions, formulate theories, and find humour in everyday life. 

The Boring Book, translated from Japanese, promotes discussions on introspection, creativity, deep thinking, asking questions and appreciation of everyday life.

The Boy and the Sea by Camille Andros

A boy finds solace, inspiration, and wisdom in the sea. His perspective of the world changes as he grows, and the sea remains a constant companion, guiding him through life’s highs and lows.

The Boy and the Sea explores curiosity, wonder, perspective, growth, and introspection.

Don't Ask the Dragon by Lemn Sissay

Alem goes on a quest to find a place to call home. He asks many creatures, but no one seems to have an answer. They warn him not to ask the dragon becasue it will eat him. Curious, Alem wants to find out if the dragon is this scary. Alem is surprised when the dragon shows him a place called “I don’t know,” where Alem can feel at home. 

Don’t Ask the Dragon shows the power of curiosity and the importance of finding one’s place in the world and encourages us to be curious and open-minded and not judge others based on rumours.

The Empty Pot by Demi

An Emperor challenges the children in his kingdom to grow a seed. Ping tends lovingly to his seed but only has an empty pot to show the emperor when spring arrives. It turns out to be a test of honesty, and Ping’s truthfulness earns him the honour of becoming the next emperor.

The Empty Pot promotes discussions on honesty, integrity, perseverance, and the courage to stand alone even when difficult.

Flood by Alvaro F. Villa

When the storm worsens, a family find themselves fleeing for safety. Upon their return, they discover their home is in ruins. Despite the destruction, the family chooses hope over despair and decides to rebuild their home. 

This wordless picture book explores resilience during a devastating disaster, survival and strength in the face of adversity.