Episode 22: Q&A – Questioning to Enhance Reading Comprehension

Episode 22

On this episode of Bilingual Avenue, I continue the reading comprehension multiple part series discussing reading comprehension strategies.  This week we focus on how to leverage asking questions about the text being read to enhance and improve your child’s reading comprehension.

 Episode #22 – Transcript

Hello everyone!  Welcome to another Question & Answer edition of the Bilingual Avenue podcast.

This is actually the last Question and Answer episode of 2014!  There will still be one more interview episode before the year is over coming out next Tuesday and then that will be it for 2014.  Thanks again for everyone that’s been following the podcast, thank you for your support and I am looking forward to sharing many more great episodes with you.

I do have one quick favor to ask of you before we wrap up the year! In order to continue to produce good programming, I’d like to hear from you.  I’d like to know what you are struggling with RIGHT NOW on your language journey.  What could you use some help with right this moment?  All you need to do is go to bilingualavenue.com/contact and send me a quick note.  This will help me make sure that the information I am putting together is useful for you and for your children.  I’m really looking forward to getting your input!

Alright, let’s get back to today’s show.  We are picking up our reading comprehension mini series.  This is part 3 of this series so if you are just coming across this episode, I recommend you start right at the beginning with episode 18 followed by episode 20!

This series is in response to a listener’s questions asking for tips and strategies to enhance his son’s reading comprehension in his heritage language which in this case happened to be Spanish.

Yet the content we are discussing in this series is applicable to any language! So far we’ve covered Making Connections and how valuable it can be to Visualize.  Today we are covering our third strategy Questioning!

Asking questions about text is something that I know a lot of you are already doing.  Let’s just dive in a little deeper and add some structure to get the most out of your child’s reading experience.

There are several benefits that I child obtains from learning to ask question while reading text.

  1. It teachers them HOW to ask questions about what they are reading and WHERE to find the answers to those questions.
  2. It gets them to dive deeper into the text they are reading by encouraging them to think beyond the text.
  3. And it creates a mechanism for them to use their higher-level thinking skills, a very valuable strategy.

So how can you and your child enhance the questioning experience.

There are two things that we want to keep in mind, WHEN to ask the questions and what TYPE of questions we want to ask.

Let’s start with WHEN

We can ask questions BEFORE reading a text. The goal here is to peak a child’s interest by encouraging them to make predictions and wonder about the text they are about to read.  You are also finding ways for children to use their previous knowledge to answer a given set of questions.

We can also ask questions DURING as we are reading the text.  You may want to prepare several questions and several stopping points within the text to ask as you are reading. But find a good balance, stopping points should not be so frequent that they deter comprehension or the natural flow when reading of the text.

And we can ask questions AFTER reading the story.  These questions help to tie it altogether like identifying the theme of a story and understanding an author’s intent.

So when thinking about when to ask questions, remember you can do so before, during and after.

Now let’s move on to the types of questions.

There are different strategies within this strategy but I am going to keep it as simple as possible.  There are four types of questions that I’d like to cover with you today.


  1. Right There Questions
  2. Think and Search Questions
  3. Reader and Author Questions
  4. On My Own Questions


Let’s go over each of the types of questions and why they are important! And if you have little ones, do not disregard this strategies.  As with the other strategies I’ve mentioned on the miniseries, this is a strategy that you can use with pre-emergent readers. You’ll just have to simplify the line of questioning.

Ok, let’s talk about the first type of questions and that is what we call “Right There Questions.” These are very literal questions whose answers can be found RIGHT in the text. For your little ones, the questions can include the same words actually found in the story.  It’s ok to ask question that seem obvious, you are just trying to convey that there are questions that can be answered with information that is found right in the text.

For your older readers, you can ask in the text questions that require the reader to gather information from several parts of the story that then have to be put together to make meaning.

So let’s move on to the second category “Think and Search questions.”

These are typically open-ended.  They require the reader to “think” about how the information in the text relates to one another and then search through the text to find the information that applies.

The third category is the reader and author questions. These questions are based on information provided in the text by the author but readers will also need to use their background or prior knowledge to answer the question. Unlike some of the other categories, you simply cannot answer the question just by reading the words on the text. Readers will have to dig deeper into their previous experience or knowledge to answer these types of questions.

The last type of questions is the ones called “On My Own questions.” For these questions, the reader will need to use his or her own context to find the answer.  The reader may not need to read the text to answer the question, but the answer would be different after reading the text.

Each of these questions are very different types of questions and by incorporating them into your child’s reading routine, you are teaching your child that they must understand the type of question before developing their answer triggering those valuable higher-level thinking skills.

Alright, so HOW can you implement this strategy at home?

If you have been following the series, you will not be surprised when I tell you that modeling will be your best friend here!

You will want to start with reading a short passage to your child.  If you have some time to prep beforehand, have a set of predetermined questions that you can ask your child about the text before, during and after reading that passage.

One thing you may want to consider is incorporating audio books when using this strategy.  I’ve talked about the value that audio books can provide on previous episodes. What’s nice about audio is that you can pause as you go along and incorporate questioning into your pauses.  If you don’t currently own audio books, I just recently partnered with Audible, they are the leading provider of digital audiobooks. If you head over to BilingualAvenueBooks.com you’ll get access to a special offer.  You can check out their selection and find some books that may work for your reading routine.  By using the BilingualAvenuebooks.com link, you will have access to a free audiobook of your choice at no cost to you.  You’ll also get a free 30-day trial membership to see if this is a resource that can enhance reading and help support the language needs of your child.

They have over 150,000 audio books with a selection of children’s books in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Russian.  So if you are working on any of these languages at home, I strongly recommend checking them out.  My daughter adores audio and it’s become one of our best tools at home to support our heritage languages.  We use both the English and the Spanish audio books and have been really pleased with the experience.

Now the BilingualAvenueBooks.com link is an affiliate link meaning I will get a small commission if you choose to use Audible but either way what I am trying to convey here is that audio in general can be a great resource on your language journey and it works extremely well when you are incorporating questions into your reading comprehension routine.

Now let’s talk about how this can be tailored to older children.  You are actually going to want to explain the four different types of questions so that they have an idea of what they are like. Again, we said that the questions we want to talk about here are:

Right There Questions

Think and Search Questions

Reader and Author Questions

On My Own Questions

Don’t worry, I’ll have plenty of samples of what types of questions you will want to use on my show notes page and I’ll talk a little bit more about that.

Now what you want to do again with your older children is talk about what they mean and define what makes them different.  You can even get creative and make a poster together that you can place in your home library.  Once your child has understood the types of questions, you can actually ask them identify the question you are asking before they answer it.  That will then help them understand what type of information they need to gather to answer the question.

And then the last thing you want to model is how to gather and find information to answer the question you are asking.  Will you use the words on the text or will you use your own experiences to craft the answer?  You don’t want to stop at asking questions, you want really challenge your child to understand the best ways to answer the question so model and show them what to do.

There are a lot of pieces for this strategy so don’t be alarmed if this sounds like a daunting task at first.  Know that it will take some time for you and your child to wrap your head around this strategy.  But, I also strongly encourage you to add this tool to your reading routine.  You will see reading comprehension gains when applying these tools so it’s certainly worth it.

Well that takes care of today’s content.  As always, I hope you found it useful and that it is helpful on your language journey.  If you need help thinking of what types of questions to ask, just head over to the show notes page at bilingualavenue.com/episode22

I have a list there that you can choose from.  You can ask your child these questions before, during and after reading a given text.  And I also talk about the different types of questions that you can use.  So again you don’t have to memorize them.  Feel free to go back and listen to the episode again again and then compliment the experience with the show notes on the website.

Also on the show notes page you will find a transcript of today’s episode. I know we covered a lot today so you can check back there and make sure you reference what we discussed today.  Again the show notes page is bilingualavenue.com/episode22

Thanks again for tuning in! Remember I want to hear from you, what are you struggling with right now on your language journey?  This will help guide future programming.  Just send me a quick note at bilingualavenue.com/contact

Thanks in advance for taking the time to do that, I certainly appreciate it!

And of course remember, you can ask a question for the podcast as well! All you have to do is head over to bilingualavenue.com and leave an audio message.  We’ll feature your question on a future podcast.

May you have fun travels on your language journey.  Hope to see you again on the avenue.

To help you on your journey experimenting with Questioning, below are some examples for each type of questions.

To help you on your journey experimenting with Questioning, below are some examples for each type of questions.

To help you on your journey experimenting with Questioning, below are some examples for each type of questions.

Some examples of phrases used for Right There questions:

Who is….?
Where is…?
What is…?
When is…?
How many…?
When did…?

Some examples of phrases used for Think and Search questions:

For what reason…?
How did…?
Why was…?
What caused…?

Some examples of phrases used for Author and Me questions:

Would you…?
Which character…?
Did you agree with…?
What did you think of…?

Some examples of phrases used for On My Own questions:

Do you know…?
Have you ever…?
Would you ever…?


If you found this episode useful, head on over to iTunes and kindly leave us a rating, a review and subscribe!

Ways to subscribe to Bilingual Avenue!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.