Read-Aloud Conversation Starters

Last week, I wrote about a simple way to help your children get so much more out of picture book read-alouds than they might be getting. (You can read more about that here). Today, I’ve got 5 really easy conversations starters that you can use with your children before, during, and after read-alouds, whether picture books or chapter books, to both deepen their comprehension of the book and build your connection over that book.

Now, I am a full believer of keeping read-aloud time at home relaxed… Please remember that! Read-aloud time at home should be about connecting and bonding over great stories and building your children’s love of reading. (If you’re homeschooling, then you’re obviously going to have times in your day when you read for instruction and comprehension… But I hope you also have times when you read to bond and enjoy literature together!). So, these questions are NOT comprehension quizzes. Rather, these give you an opportunity to think deeper about a shared book with your child.***

Five Conversation-Starting Questions to Go Along With Read-Alouds

  1. (Before starting a book, take a look at the front cover, and if it’s a picture book, flip briefly through the pages) What do you think this book is going to be about?
  2. How do you think [character’s name] is feeling right now? How would you be feeling?
  3. Which character would you want to be friends with, and why?
  4. Which character is the most [character trait]? Why? (In Sarah Mackenzie’s The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids, she suggests using the character trait “courageous” to start with, especially if you haven’t read the book, as it can be applied to so many storylines).
  5. If the story kept going (If the story had a sequel…), what would happen next?

Remember, the above questions will be much less quiz-like and garner much deeper answers if you make them a conversation! Therefore, you should also try to predict what the book will be about or tell the first chapter of the sequel. And, note that these are open-ended, opinion-based questions, so there are no wrong answers! Lastly, know that you don’t need to ask all five of these questions every single time you read a book. In fact, you may not even ask one question every time you read a book. But, have them in your back pocket for those times when you’ve got a few extra minutes to chat about a story!

***Worth noting though– these are all open-ended enough that you can also use them to check in on your child’s independent reading, even if you’ve never read the book!

For more ideas on talking with your children about their reading, see:

The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids by Sarah Mackenzie, pages 160-181

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease (7th edition), pages 73-79 (You can read a short review here).

Raising Kids Who Read: What Parents and Teachers Can Do by Daniel T. Willingham, pages 107-112

The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction by Meghan Cox Gurdon, pages 104-108 (You can read my full review here).

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