Tips for Parents: Encouraging Questioning

A very important comprehension strategy for young children to learn is questioning. Don’t get me wrong – they are already excellent at asking questions! What they need to learn is that good readers ask questions before, during, and after reading. It’s how they engage in a text. Pay attention to how many times you yourself ask questions when you’re reading – “I wonder what this will be about?” “Will it be like her last book?” “How is the author going to wrap this up?!?”

• Questions help a reader clarify ideas and deepen understanding.
• If you ask questions as you read, you are awake, you are thinking.
• Diving in with questions-even those that are unanswerable-enriches the reading experience.
• In their quest to make sense of their world, they bombard those around them-young children
are master questioners. Why are there clouds? Do fish sleep? Why is the sky blue?

Frequently, parents have no idea how to answer these endless questions. In desperation
they might change the subject or come up with a feeble dodge to get off the hook. In fact,
those questions show a child’s brilliance. As a parent, you want to encourage them to ask the
real questions, those questions that really puzzle them, even if you can’t answer them.
• Wonder keeps the imagination alive and curiosity well-tuned.
• Asking questions is how you make sense of the world.
• Questions lead you to new ideas, new perspectives, and additional questions.
• Some questions don’t have easy answers. But all questions inspire thinking, generate
discussion, or lead you to other sources.
• Share your questions with your child, showing him/her that even you have questions when you
• Encourage your child to ask questions as he read is part of a larger task: inspiring wonder.
There are so many things to wonder about: I wonder what a black hole is. I wonder why
people risk their lives to climb Mt. Everest. I wonder how life began…Before you start
reading a book with your child, play the “I Wonder” game.
• Questions send readers on quests. They cause readers to seek, pursue and search for
answers or deeper understanding.
• Help your child fall in love with the story-share the excitement. Questions keep you turning
the pages to find out what happens next.
• There’s no doubt about it: Kids love to generate their own questions! Questioning makes
reading fun. But to know how to question, your child needs to hear your questions first. This
is not about asking your child questions. Instead, it’s about modeling what it means to be
curious by sharing the questions you have while you read. Don’t rush the answers right away.
Pose several questions and then let your child take a turn asking questions that come to
his/her mind. You’re showing your child how to be an active player in the world of reading.
Parent/Child Home Activities
• Have children keep track of all the questions they ask over the weekend.
• Students should interview parents to find out how they use questions at work.
• Have a parent and child come up with a burning question. For instance, “Why are there so
many different kinds of snakes in Florida?” From the questions generated, take a trip to the
library to check out some books about snakes.

Books That Raise Questions
Picture Books
The Sick Day, Patricia MacLachlan
Elmer, David McKee
Charlie Anderson, Barbara Abercrombie
The Bracelet, Yoshiko Uchida
Uncle Jed’s Barbershop, Margaree King Mitchell
The Wolf, Margaret Barbalet

Poetry by Shel Silverstein

Any books by Chris Van Allsburg or Jane Yolen

Excerpts taken from the book

7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It!
By Susan Zimmerman (for Parents and Teachers)

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