7 Types of Questions to Use During Story Time
When you read stories to young children, asking questions is a great way to get the kids involved in the story. Asking questions can also help to emphasize an important part of the story, check for comprehension, and help kids learn how to predict endings and outcomes. There are a lot of different types of questions you can ask before, during, and after reading a story to young children. Understanding the types of questions and how to use them effectively can help you get the most out of story time for you and your child. Use questions with TPR for a truly interactive experience that kids are sure to enjoy! If you don’t know what TPR is and how to use it, see my blog post Using TPR to Improve Storytelling here.
7 Types of Questions to Use During Story Time
Here is a list of some of the types of questions to use with tips and examples to make them more effective:
- Ask questions before you start a story to set the mood and get the kids thinking. One great way to do that, is to have the children look at the cover and ask them what the story will be about. Let them use their imaginations and be creative.
- Ask questions about the illustrations on the page. What do the characters feel? Would you like to go to this place? These are just a couple of examples. The choices are as different as the illustrations in different books.
- Ask questions about the story to check understanding. These can be simple questions about what was on the page, for example for my book I Can Sleep When the Wind Blows, I often ask how many people wanted to work for the farmer, or what kind of jobs would a farm hand do on a farm. They can also be more complicated questions about part of the book, for example, again in my book I Can Sleep When the Wind Blows, you can ask if Jim knew there was a storm coming.
- Ask questions about the feelings of the characters. In my book The Blomes and the Smooms and the Impossible Bridge, there are a lot of feelings expressed. This is a good chance to ask about how the characters feel and even dive deeper to ask why they feel that way. (I also love to ask the kids to show me what they look like when they feel that way. Kids love making faces! You can ask them when they have felt these feelings.
- Ask them what they think the characters will do next and what they would do in that situation. These types of questions are great to get kids thinking deeply. It’s also good for them to put themselves in the place of the characters so they really feel involved in the story.
- Ask questions about the moral or lesson taught in the story. If this is a story that teaches a moral or a lesson, asking questions is a great way to make sure kids are understanding that lesson. With my story The Blomes and the Smooms and the Impossible Bridge, you might as why the kids could build the bridge when their parents couldn’t. You could also ask why it’s important to try to listen to work together with people who are different than you. In my story I Can Sleep When the Wind Blows, you could ask why the farm was safe and why Jim felt safe to sleep while the farmer was panicked when the storm came.
- After the story is done, ask how they felt about the story. Getting kids to talk about how a story made them feel is a great way to help them open up about how other things make them feel. You can also ask them what their favorite part of the story was or if it ended the way they thought it would. There are a lot of questions to ask now, it really depends on the story and the children.
Tips to Help You Use Questions During Story Time
We read to children in different setting and circumstances. Sometimes we have all the time in the world to read and talk with our children, but sometimes we need to hurry. Sometimes you have just one or two children listening to your story and you can ask specific questions to all of them. Sometimes you have 32 kindergarteners who all want to be involved. Asking questions can help make story telling more fun and interactive no matter what the situation is, and these tips can help.
- If you are low on time, ask guided questions. Yes, open ended questions are best. They help kids think deeply and use their imagination, but if you have time limits, consider guided questions. With guided questions, you can give the children two choices, both of which are good. For example, would you want the Smoom’s Smoomberry ice-cream or the Blome’s inventions? You can also ask yes or no questions like, “Do you think the Smooms should share their ice cream?” These types of questions still help the kids to feel involved with the story, but they don’t take up a lot of time. (This is great for questions you ask at bedtime!)
- Listen to their answers! I know this might seem silly, but don’t just ask a question to check off a box. Listen to what the children are telling you. You might learn something about them and how they are feeling. Interactive story telling should be interactive with both the listener and the storyteller really present and listening.
- Don’t lean too hard into the moral of the story. One of the reasons that stories are great ways to teach lessons is because they are not so personal. Children don’t feel chastised or in trouble for their mistakes, and they can work through complicated emotions and situations more easily through the characters in a story. Let them tell you what they learned. If you really want them to understand a point, try guided questions about the characters rather than telling them how they should feel or what they should think.