Talking to Kids about Books

Independent reading time is a standard part of the late elementary and early middle school homework routine. Beginning around 2nd grade, students begin to keep reading logs to keep track of the names of their books, and how many pages they read or how long they read for. And while many of these texts are quite simple to start, the early reading habits that students build with books like Frog and Toad, Ramona and Beezus, and Mercy Watson, are the habits that will enable them to become immersed in the world of Harry Potter, enthralled by the battles of Percy Jackson and Catniss Everdeen, and moved by the emotional turmoil of Holden Caulfield and Ponyboy Curtis. That is why it is so important to talk to your children about books and ask questions that encourage kids to actively make connections as they read - to events in their life, to things they know about the world, to other books that they’ve read, to other characters they’ve met - because it is this sort of reflection that brings books to life and creates a love of reading. Below we’ve included a list of guiding questions to get you started!

Before your child begins a new book, ask:

  • Why did you choose this book?

  • What makes you think this book is going to be interesting?

  • What do you think the book is going to be about?

  • Does this book remind you of anything else you’ve already read or seen?

  • What kind of characters do you think will be in the book?

  • What do you think is going to happen?

While he or she is reading a book, try asking:

  • Will you catch me up on the story? What’s happened so far?

  • What do you think will happen next?

  • If you were that character, what would you have done differently in that situation?

  • If the book was a TV show, which actors would you cast in it?

  • Where is the book set?

  • If the main character in that story lived next door, would you be friends?

  • What does the place look like in your head as you read? Would you want to visit there?

  • Did you learn any new words or facts so far?

After your child has finished the book, ask questions like:

  • What was your favorite part of the book? Why?

  • Who was your favorite character? Why?

  • What was the most interesting thing you learned from the book?

  • Why do you think the author wrote this book?

  • Would you have ended the book differently? Did it end the way you thought it would?

  • Did the problem of the book’s plot get solved?

  • If you could change one thing in the book, what would it be?