There are many benefits of reading to children and hundreds of fantastical books to bewitch a child’s imagination. It’s vital to get little ones thinking about the types of books they’ll be learning in school and enjoying at home. Asking your child what they love about storybooks will enrich their learning. They’ll develop their comprehension and critical thinking skills. The right questions can stimulate your child’s responses and ultimately help them understand there is more to a book than just a pretty cover.
Below, Izzy is being read our personalised Unicorn Adventure book by her mum. Throughout the video, you can see how much they interact as Izzy’s mum asks questions as they read. As they discuss the book, the experience of Izzy being read to becomes a beautiful way for them to bond, and opens up a way for them to talk to each other about so much more than the book in front of them. This engagement makes reading a joint activity, strengthening the bond between the two of them and encouraging Izzy to love literature.
Izzy’s mum paused regularly to ask questions as they read. Now, let’s look into the questions that were asked and why.
Where’s your name?
Beginning with the cover of the book, where the personalised name takes pride of place, Izzy is immediately encouraged to engage with the book as she’s asked to point out where her name appears.
What do you think this book’s going to be about?
Before opening the book, it’s a great start to ask your child what they expect from the book you’ll be reading together. This allows them to come up with their own ideas and engage their imagination. Using the illustrations to describe what they think will happen will also boost their confidence as you find out if they’re guesses are correct together.
Do you like her hair?
Choose aspects of the illustrations in the book and highlight them. Asking for your child’s opinion opens up the conversation and gets them talking about what they can see.
In our video, Izzy points at another part of the illustration and gives her opinion freely, allowing the two of them to discuss what they like about the book. Asking what your child likes gets them to focus on positive things, associating reading with something good.
Do you like to play games?
In the book Izzy and her mother are reading, the unicorn likes playing games. When Izzy is asked about whether she likes playing, this draws parallels from the book to Izzy’s real life experiences.
This allows her to discuss things in her own life, not just the aspects of the fictional book they’re reading. If there’s something you wish to discuss with your child, finding a book loosely based on that subject becomes a great way to bring it up as you ask open questions to encourage them to talk more.
What does that say?
Within each of the illustrations of this book your child’s name is cleverly hidden. Finding their name together creates a great activity as you read together. The recognition of a word as familiar as their own name boosts confidence as they find it on every page.
How cool is that?
Using positive words reinforces the joy of reading together, creating a happy experience to share – and one they’ll want to repeat again and again.
What do you think unicorns do in their spare time?
Asking specific questions about the characters in the book to draw parallels to your child’s likes and real-life experiences. You can hear Izzy’s mum use watching TV or playing on an iPad as examples of what they may like to do. This encourages Izzy to discuss things she likes in a different context, as well as encouraging her to use her imagination to talk about what the book characters may like.
What do you think they like to eat? Do you think they eat grass?
This is another great question which allows Izzy to use her imagination. Not only can she describe what she sees in the illustrations of the book, she can also elaborate and go on to say food she also likes.
What’s that? Who’s made that?
Drawing attention to different parts of the book, asking your child to describe what they see helps them improve their vocabulary as you both use different adjectives to say what you see.
Speculating over who has made things within the images, or why things appear a certain way further sparks the imagination.
What’s happened in the forest now?
Before continuing the story, Izzy’s mum pauses to ask Izzy what she thinks has happened. This allows her to look at the illustrations and interpret what they may mean, before the story tells her. Asking for opinions on what’s happening boosts confidence as it allows your child to take charge of the conversation and use descriptive words.
What noise does the owl/bat make?
Though open ended questions are great, simple questions such as asking what noises animals within the book make. Izzy’s mum states she isn’t sure of what noise a bat makes, allowing Izzy to tell her and they both make the sound together. This injects fun ino the situation as they laugh over the noises they’re making.
Who lives in a place like this?
Whether fictional or real, discussing the environments portrayed within the book allows imagination to take over. In the video, Izzy associates the snowy landscape in the book with Father Christmas,and there are more landscapes to discuss on every page. Encouraging your child to touch the pages of the book, and parts of the illustrations further enhances the experience of reading as they interact more.
What’s happened? What does that mean?
While asking your child to describe things on the pages and within the story, encourage them to expand on their answers by asking further questions to gently persuade them to say more. Soon you’ll find that they elaborate more as their confidence and vocabulary grows.
Do you think …?
Begin questions this way to lead them towards positive answers. Though you’re steering them towards the correct answer, having them think about what you are reading is a great way of engaging them further in what they are reading.
She looks a bit sad doesn’t she?
Izzy’s mum highlights the emotions of the character within the book. This is a fantastic way of approaching difficult emotions such as sadness. Seeing storybook characters experiencing these feelings is a way of normalising them for small children. They come to understand that all feelings are okay to have and these emotions can be worked through together.
Where did she go? Where did we start?
Reflect on the beginning of the story as you reach the end. Discussing the journey of the character and what they aimed to do at the beginning of the book allows your child to interpret what has occurred within the story. Here they can talk about whether they were right about what they thought would happen in their book. Recapping the story keeps Izzy engaged.
What were the clouds made of, can you remember?
When Izzy’s mum asks this question, it brings up something specific about the book they previously discussed. This allows Izzy to feel confident as she uses her short-term memory skills to further discuss that part of the book. This allows Izzy’s mum to give some positive reinforcement as she remembers the details of the story.
How did they put a picture of you in the book?
Highlighting the personalised aspects of Izzy’s book continues her engagement with her wonderful gift, making her want to read this title again and again.
The personalised Disney The Incredibles 2 book is an enthralling read for children. There are numerous elements to the book that will appeal to excited little minds, from the vibrant illustrations to the easy to read text. Best of all, your child becomes a part of the story!
Did you enjoy the book? Why?
Did the denouement deliver? Would your child read the book again? This question is so important once the book has come to a close. Sure, reading is a necessary basic skill. But it’s the fun that counts. Children will naturally want to read if they have enjoyed the experience.
Who was the most important character and why?
Was it the protagonist? An antagonist perhaps? Now that your child knows how the story ended, do they feel differently about their favourite character? Was “Mrs Incredible” the real hero or was it “Edna”? Did they teach your child an important lesson?
What was your favourite part of the storybook? Why?
Ask your child to find their favourite part in the book. See how responsive they are. This will indicate how they evaluate the story and what part they decided was so valuable to remember. Was it the reveal of Jack-Jack’s mind-blowing powers? Or maybe the identity of The Screenslaver?
If you could give the book another title, what would it be?
This particular question should trigger your child to recollect the scenes from the book and look back on the plot retrospectively. Critical thinking is a skill. It requires initiative and an emotional response. This will show your child has connected with the story.
Do you prefer books with your name or without your name? Why?
A personalised story opens up your child to real-world scenarios, helping them handle life in real contexts. They can explore other cultures and even make history interesting. We bet your child will have lots of questions to ask too!
- First impressions count with books. A great title can sum up a book in one line and inspire your child to wonder.
- Questions for parents to ask when reading should always include at least one question on the functions of a book like guessing the genre. This helps your child build a bigger picture of what they’re going to read.
- 10 – 15 minutes is the average attention span of a child aged 5 – 6 when they’re interested in one activity. If they’re truly interested in the story, you’ll get more than “yes” or “no” answers.
- Children respond to characters who have similar traits as themselves and to those who have traits they aspire to obtain. Storybook characters lead by example. These are the role-models your child will learn from.
- Storybooks should be interactive, teaching your child to read for pleasure. Keep this in mind when your child has finished the book. This will help you and your child decide what to read next.
Even adults have questions to ask before, during and after reading. Our natural curiosity is at its peak when we’re animated by the characters and the plot. Parents reading with questions about the story open up a world of understanding to a child that was never there before. Enriching their learning, assessing key points in the story and providing your child with an interactive reading experience are amongst the many benefits of asking a few simple questions. Most importantly, the strong threads of a parent and child bond are sewn into a nourished and fulfilling relationship.