One of my goals when teaching reading is to get students to realize that reading is thinking! The questioning strategy fits in well with this point of view.
Sometimes we may take it for granted that all readers ask and answer questions as they read, but the truth is, what may seem intuitive to strong readers is definitely not something that comes naturally to struggling readers.
As teachers, the questioning strategy is one of the reading concepts that will need to be directly taught.
Encouraging, reminding, and prodding students (if need be) to ask themselves questions and then read until they find the answer is something that can be very helpful for our readers.
I have seen a tremendous amount of growth when students ask questions as they read. They go from passive to active readers, which is exactly what we want!
As students start to wonder about the characters, the setting, and the plot, they engage with text which helps to increase their comprehension.
The picture books below are ones that I have found to be successful for mini-lessons about the concept of questioning. The stories have enough depth to support this type of thinking and are ones your students will most likely enjoy!
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Last Stop On Market Street by Matt de la Pena is an inclusive tale about a boy named CJ and his grandma, who ride the bus home from church each Sunday. CJ begins to question the world around him on his ride home and is answered encouragingly by his grandma as she reminds him to see the beauty and fun in their routine.
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers is a silly story of a the events that ensue when a little boy’s kite gets stuck up a tree.
Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco is a multi-cultural story, based on Polacco’s childhood, all about friendship and a journey of love and service.
4. The Raft
The Raft by Jim LaMarche follows a young boy, Nicky, and the many adventures on which his raft takes him.
The Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery for History by Jane Yolen is the gripping story of a ship, The Mary Celeste, which was discovered adrift on the open sea by another ship in 1872. Yolen explores this mystery, allowing for readers to put the pieces of the puzzle together as they go.
Plant Secrets by Emily Goodman is a colorful picture book that, using four common plants, allows young readers learn about plant’s life cycles.
The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky follows the life of Eratosthenes, an ancient Greek librarian who is known today for his ingenious method for measuring the earth’s girth.
8. The Liszts
The Liszts by Kyo Maclear is a poetic story about a family, The Liszts, whose most favorite thing and most necessary to-do is making lists, whether they be usual or unusual.
The Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland is about a young girl who took a lotus seed from a palace in her homeland of Vietnam in order to remember her journey there, through both an arranged marriage and fleeing the country during civil war.
Here are some more mentor texts for teaching questioning:
If you’re looking for reading resources to help teach about questioning, this one might help! The Launching Reading Workshop unit includes an entire month’s worth of mini-lessons as well as an entire year’s worth of framework or supporting materials for Reading Workshop. The first two weeks are about routines and expectations and the second two weeks are all about reading comprehension strategies. “Questioning” is one of the 10 key reading comprehension strategy mini-lessons. There are also anchor charts and graphic organizers about questioning too!
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