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A mother reads a book to her two children on a sofa, with the text "ASKING QUESTIONS AT HOME" overlaid on the image.

How Parents Can Help with Reading Comprehension at Home

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Parents are crucial in enhancing their children’s literacy skills. Using guided questions during read-aloud sessions is an effective way for how parents can help with reading comprehension at home. This method promotes a passion for reading, develops critical thinking, and cultivates a questioning mindset. Here’s a guide to help you get started (with examples from Elmer by David McKee and After the Fall by Dan Santat).

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How Parents Can Help with Reading Comprehension at Home?

Why Use Guided Questions at Home?

  1. Promotes Curiosity: Questions fuel your child’s natural curiosity about the world.
  2. Encourages Active Engagement: Children become more involved in the story and are motivated to find answers.
  3. Strengthens Comprehension: Discussing answers deepens understanding of the text and its themes.
  4. Develops Critical Thinking: Different types of questions encourage your child to think beyond the surface level.
A woman reads a book titled "HONEY" to a young girl and boy inside a cozy room adorned with a play tent and toys.

What Are Different Types of Questions (with Examples)?

Factual Questions (Who, What, Where, When)

  • Purpose: Helps children recall details from the story.
  • Example: “What colours can you see on Elmer’s patchwork?”


Inferential Questions
(Why, How)

  • Purpose: Encourages children to infer meaning beyond what is explicitly stated.
  • Example: “Why do you think Elmer wanted to blend in with the other elephants?”


Analytical Questions
(Compare, Contrast, Evaluate)

  • Purpose: Promotes deeper analysis and critical thinking.
  • Example: “How does Elmer’s attitude towards being different change throughout the story?”
Illustration from a children's book showing Elmer, the patchwork elephant, and a young pink elephant in a colorful flower garden with a big orange sun in the background.
Click on the image for Elmer activity ideas and questions

Tips for Parents Reading at Home

  • Create a Comfortable Reading Space: Find a quiet and cosy spot where both you and your child can comfortably read together.
  • Set the Right Tone: Approach the read-aloud session with enthusiasm and curiosity to show your child that reading is enjoyable.
  • Model Questioning Behaviour: Ask your own questions during the story to demonstrate curiosity and encourage your child to follow suit.
    • Example: “I wonder how Elmer will surprise his friends?”
  • Ask Open-Ended Questions: Questions like “What do you think will happen next?” allow your child to express their ideas freely.
  • Give Think Time: Allow your child some time to think before answering questions. Avoid immediately jumping in with corrections.
  • Encourage Your Child to Ask Questions: Motivate your child to pose their own questions about the story.
    • Prompt: “What are you wondering about this story?”
  • Praise Efforts, Not Just Answers: Praise your child’s efforts to answer and ask questions, even if their answers aren’t perfect.
    • Example: “That’s a great idea! I hadn’t thought of that.”
  • Connect Stories to Real-Life Experiences: Relate themes from the book to your child’s everyday life.
    • Example: “Elmer likes being unique. How do you feel about being different?”
  • Maintain a Questioning Journal: Keep a journal where your child can write down their favourite questions or new things they’ve learned from each story.
A young boy reads a book intently while sitting on the floor in a colorful classroom, with another child playing in the background.

Example Questions for Popular Picture Books

Elmer by David McKee

  • Factual: “What colours can you see on Elmer’s patchwork?”
  • Inferential: “Why do you think Elmer wanted to blend in with the other elephants?”
  • Analytical: “How does Elmer’s attitude towards being different change throughout the story?”


After the Fall by Dan Santat

  • Factual: “What did Humpty Dumpty love to do before he fell?”
  • Inferential: “Why was Humpty Dumpty scared to climb back up the wall?”
  • Analytical: “How does Humpty Dumpty change from the beginning to the end of the story?”
Click on the image for After the Fall activity ideas and questions
Click on the image for After the Fall activity ideas and questions

In Summary

Guided questioning during read-aloud sessions provides an excellent opportunity for how parents can help with reading comprehension at home by engaging their children in meaningful discussions and fostering a habit of curiosity.

Using different types of questions can help your child develop critical thinking skills while deepening their love for reading.

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