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The Role of Questioning in Developing Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking and problem-solving skills empower readers to navigate complex ideas and everyday challenges. A powerful way to cultivate these skills is through strategic questioning. By understanding and utilizing different types of questions for reading comprehension—factual, inferential, and analytical—children learn to think deeply, make connections, and form their own insights. This blog post explores the impact that strategic questioning can have on developing critical thinking skills in readers.

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The Role of Questioning in Developing Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking and problem-solving skills empower readers to navigate complex ideas and everyday challenges. A powerful way to cultivate these skills is through questioning

By understanding and utilizing different types of questions for reading comprehension and specifically incorporating questions to promote critical thinking, children learn to think deeply, make connections, and form their own insights.

Why Does Questioning Matters?

  1. Encourages Curiosity: Questions, especially varied types of questions for reading comprehension, fuel curiosity and stimulate interest in various topics.
  2. Promotes Active Learning: Readers actively engage with the material by answering and asking questions.
  3. Enhances Comprehension: Understanding deepens as children explain concepts and infer meanings.
  4. Fosters Analytical Skills: Analytical questions help children evaluate and synthesise information.


Using examples from popular picture books, let’s explore the significance of different types of questions—factual, inferential, and analytical—and how each contributes to critical thinking.

What Are Factual Questions?

These questions seek straightforward answers and are directly tied to the text.

Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne

  • Question: Who is the first character to speak in the book?
  • Purpose: Encourages readers to recall specific details, promoting attentive reading.

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

  • Question: What food does Camilla refuse to eat at the start of the book?
  • Purpose: Helps readers remember significant details, fostering precision.
Illustration of a child and a dog's shadow standing at the start of a winding path in a park with trees, lamp posts, and distant figures.
Click on the image for Voices in the Park activity ideas and questions

What Are Inferential Questions?

These questions require readers to read between the lines and infer information that isn’t explicitly stated.

Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne

  • Question: Why do you think the characters have such different perspectives on their day in the park?
  • Purpose: Helps readers understand the motivations and emotions behind different characters’ perspectives.

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

  • Question: Why do you think Camilla gets a case of stripes?
  • Purpose: Encourages readers to infer meaning based on character actions and underlying emotions.

What Are Analytical Questions?

These questions encourage deeper analysis by asking readers to compare, contrast, and evaluate information.

Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne

  • Question: How does each character’s experience in the park differ from the others?
  • Purpose: Promotes understanding of contrasting perspectives and thematic growth.

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

  • Question: What changes in Camilla’s behaviour after she gets better?
  • Purpose: Inspires creativity while analysing character development and thematic resolution.
A painting depicting a surreal scene with a person riding a colorful, ornamented horse on the left and a woman's face expressing surprise on a tv screen on the right.
Click on the image for A Bad Case of Stripes activity ideas and questions

Creating a Questioning Environment

  1. Open-Ended Questions: Encourage children to express themselves and elaborate on their answers, serving as effective questions to promote critical thinking.
  2. Wait Time: Give children time to think and respond thoughtfully to questions to promote critical thinking.
  3. Questioning Role Models: Model curiosity by asking your own questions during reading sessions.
  4. Encourage Independent Questioning: Motivate children to pose their own questions to promote critical thinking about the story.

Questions to Promote Critical Thinking

Each question is a stepping stone to sharpen critical thinking skills, encouraging readers to delve deeper into the wonderful world of books. By exploring and responding to questions to promote critical thinking, readers can better engage with texts and enhance their analytical skills.

Questions for Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne

  1. Factual: Who is the first character to speak in the book?
  2. Analytical: Why do you think the characters have such different perspectives on their day in the park?
  3. Factual: What type of dog does Charles bring to the park?
  4. Inferential: Why do you think Smudge wants to play with Charles?
  5. Analytical: How does the artwork reflect the mood of each character’s story?
  6. Inferential: Why does Charles’s mother become annoyed when he talks to Smudge?
  7. Factual: What activity does Smudge suggest doing first when she meets Charles?
  8. Analytical: What differences and similarities can you find between Charles’s mother and Smudge’s father?
  9. Factual: What is the weather like in Charles’s story compared to Smudge’s?
  10. Analytical: How does the park itself change between the four characters’ stories?
  11. Inferential: Why does Smudge’s father feel happier after his time in the park?
  12. Analytical: How do the four stories work together to provide a complete picture of the day in the park?
The book "Voices in the Park" features sticky notes and a picture of a tree in the park.
Click for more Voices in the Park questions

Questions for A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

  1. Factual: What food does Camilla refuse to eat at the start of the book?
  2. Inferential: Why do you think Camilla gets a case of stripes?
  3. Factual: What happens to Camilla after she refuses to eat the lima beans?
  4. Inferential: Why does Camilla change her appearance to fit in with others?
  5. Analytical: What impact does the media have on Camilla’s situation?
  6. Factual: What happens when the doctors try to diagnose Camilla?
  7. Inferential: Why do you think Camilla finally eats the lima beans in the end?
  8. Analytical: How does Camilla’s view of herself change throughout the story?
  9. Factual: What does Camilla turn into when she first gets a bad case of stripes?
  10. Inferential: Why do the other kids tease Camilla when she first shows up with stripes?
  11. Analytical: How do Camilla’s parents contribute to her feelings of insecurity?
  12. Analytical: What message does David Shannon want readers to learn from Camilla’s story?
A bad case of stripes with a book and a poster.
Click for more A Bad Case of the Stripes questions

In Summary

Questioning serves as a foundational tool in nurturing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Whether factual, inferential, or analytical, each type of question for reading comprehension is crucial in guiding readers toward a deeper understanding of the text, ultimately helping them develop into independent thinkers and effective communicators.

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