A Learning Support on Discussing Books and Reading

[You can also grab this as a Word document if you want it that way.]

Some Questions to Ask when Roaming among Readers

 Always:

  • What page are you on?

Mostly:

  • What do you think so far?
  • How is it?
  • What’s happening now?

 And Also:

  • Any surprises so far?
  • How did you feel when you got to the part about __________?

 Main Character Queries:

  • Who’s the main character in this one?
  • What’s the main character like?
  • What’s his problem, or hers?
  • How’s the character development in general? Are you convinced?

 Author Queries:

  • Who wrote this one?
  • What do you think of the writing so far?
  • Do you know anything about the author?
  • Any theories about why he or she might have written this?
  • How is it, so far, compared to his or her other books?

 Critical Queries:

  • What genre is this one?
  • How is it, so far, compared with other books about ______?
  • Is it plausible?
  • How’s the pace?
  • What’s the narrative voice? How’s that working for you?
  • What do you think of the dialogue/format/length of chapters/flashbacks/inclusion of poems/diction choices/author’s experiments with _____, and so on (depending on the book)?

 When Its A Page Turner:

  • What’s making this a page-turner for you, vs. a literary novel? What are you noticing? For example, is it formulaic—easy for you to predict?

 Process Queries:

  • Why did you decide to read this one?
  • I can’t believe how much you read last night. Tell me about that.
  • Why did you decide to reread this one?
  • Where did you find this book?

When Theres No Zone:

  • Is this book taking you into the reading zone?
  • Why do you think it’s taking you so long to read this?
  • Can you skim the parts that drag—the descriptions, for example?
  • Are you confused because it’s hard to understand the language, or because you can’t tell what’s going on?
  • Are you considering abandoning this book? Because if you’re not hooked by now, that’s more than okay. You can always come back to it someday.
  • Do you want to skim and find out what happens, or even read just the ending, then move on to a better book?
  • What’s on your someday list?
  • Do you know what other book I think you might like?

Excerpted from: Atwell, Nancie. The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers. New York: Scholastic, 2007.

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