The Magic Word to Use in Questions to Raise Curious, Confident Readers

The Magic Word to Put in All Your Questions to Raise Curious, Confident Readers

When practicing reading at home, and teaching literacy at home, we want to raise curious, confident readers who use literacy to find out more about the world, speak truth to power, and ensure that they have a voice and others do too. One of the best ways for us to get there is to ask open-ended questions to leave room for interpretation, open up a conversation, and get our kids thinking about this shades-of-grey world we live in.

There are a few ways to do this during your family’s read-aloud time:

  1. Show Your Thinking: Be sure to wonder-aloud even more than you ask questions. In order for your child to understand how to think critically about text, they must have an example of thwart this look slike. Something you can do to ensure this is by wondering aloud (read here or watch here to learn more about how to do this!)
  2. Deeper Questioning: Ask 1-2 fact-based questions just to check if your child is understanding. After that, stick to critical thinking or inferential questions. This shows your child how to think about books as a critical consumer of text. Two important topics you can ask about:
    • Character’s Feelings: connect with the characters and use it as an opportunity to discuss your own feelings about a topic. Often, by talking about a character instead of yourself, it’s easier to talk about your child’s wants, fears, and hopes for the future.
    • Author’s Purpose: Analyze why an author wrote these words. Did the author want to entertain, to persuade, or to provide impartial information? Discuss the author’s purpose with your child together so they can start to think about why texts were written and remember that texts don’t just appear, all of us have a reason for writing! Next week, we’ll discuss this topic further!
  3. Mighty Questions. Reading aloud should primarily be for the joy and comfort of story and storytelling. Secondary comes our desire to teach and have our child learn as we’re reading. I highly recommend using most of the read aloud to wonder aloud, point out interesting things, and show your child what you’re thinking.

    Then, in perhaps 1-2 parts of the book, you may want to stop and ask a question. Questioning should feel like you are collectively wondering, or like you are both involved in finding out the answer. It should not feel like a quiz. Here’s how to make that happen:
    • Use “might” in your questions.
      • “Why did the character do that” is very different from “why might the character have done that?” The word “might” introduces a sense of curiosity and the idea that there’s more than one right answer.
    • Refrain from asking obvious or fact-based questions.
      • Your questioning should be saved for your child’s critical thinking ability, and not to see if they’re paying attention. Instead of “what did the rooster say to the duck back there?” try “Why might the rooster have said that to the duck?” This gives your child a firm leg to stand on, assuming that they are paying attention, invested in learning, and that you two together are seeking to make meaning from text. 

To see “Mighty Questions” in action, watch this video here.

To raise curious, confident readers, show them that their opinion matters and that the world is open for interpretation by asking broad and mighty questions!

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