Reading Comprehension Strategy 2: Questioning

Who? What? Where? When? Why? Asking questions is a normal procedure for finding out about the world, and proficient readers carry a questioning attitude into their reading.

The strategy of questioning involves an almost constant generation of questions that a reader raises internally while engaged in understanding a text. Some questions target important information; these questions help a reader to identify significant details, to follow the elements of a plot in a story, to get the facts. Other questions help a reader take stock of the reading process; they monitor comprehension.

  • Did this passage make sense to me?
  • What should I be on the lookout for in this next passage?

And some questions are directed toward the writer of a text. What does this author seem to think is most important? Why is the author telling me this now? These questions create almost an inner dialogue between the reader and the writer of a text. Harvey and Goudvis argue that it is useful during instruction to help children learn to categorize questions. Some common questions asked by readers include:

  • Questions that have answers provided in the text.
  • Questions that force a reader to make connections with background knowledge and experiences.
  • Questions that force a reader to “read between the lines” and use clues provided by the author to infer an answer.
  • Questions that can be answered after discussion with others.
  • Questions that go “beyond the page” and require further investigation and research to answer.
  • Questions that signal confusion or cue the reader to seek clarification.
  • Questions that are open-ended and do not have set answers.
  • Questions which cause us to wonder and to speculate.

The questioning strategy involves children becoming self-questioners, as opposed to others providing comprehension questions for them to answer. Self-questioning is an attribute of independent learners, in contrast to children who read only to answer questions from a worksheet or listed by a textbook author.

As a result, some children may become overly dependent on the teacher or a worksheet exercise for relevant questions that can be asked about a specific text. The questioning reading strategy emphasizes that children need to be taught how to pose good questions themselves rather than how to find answers to questions posed by others.

How Can Parents Help?

Parents play an enormous role in their child’s success as a reader. Here are some ways parents can help:

  • Have your child’s vision and hearing checked at a clinic.
  • Read to your child. Even after your child is able to read, continue to read aloud each day. For more information see Books and Stories.
  • Talk with your child. Help your child develop the language skills needed for reading.
  • Listen to your child read to you. Encourage rather than correct.
    For more information see Teaching Directions.
  • Exhibit good reading habits at home. Let your child see you reading.
  • Play word games with your child.
  • Praise your child’s reading efforts. Do not over correct your child or push your child to read text that is too difficult.
  • Show an interest in your child’s school. Volunteer to help. Develop a relationship with your child’s teacher. Ask questions.