Reading Skills Prompts and Sample Questions

Thank you so much to all those parents, carers and family members who came in to school to join us for the Stay and Read on 14 October. The event was well attended and seemed to be enjoyed by all!

Some visitors asked for guidance on how they could help children read at home or for help on what types of questions to ask to help make progress in comprehension.

It is of great help if families can help at home with comprehension skills as this is something that children are expected to develop from the earliest stages of learning to read.  Developing comprehension skills is one of the reasons why pupils are sometimes given the same reading book twice; the first time is to develop and apply their phonic knowledge (sounding out, blending and recognising words) and other times to expand their ability to understand the content of texts.  It is often the case that children can “read” the words on a page (they know the sounds that the letters make) without understanding what the words mean.  Children also enjoy reading books over again!

As children progress through school, the expected level of comprehension skills obviously become more complex.

Attached is a general guide that you can hopefully adapt to make age appropriate to your own children, which we hope you find helpful.  We have divided the questions and set them out under the five skills that are identified as constituting comprehension in the new curriculum.

Reading Skill: Word Reading

  • (Decode, understand, describe, select or retrieve information about events or ideas from the text and using quotations & references to the text to help you.)
  • Why are the words … written in bold/italics?
  • What happened at (refer to a specific part of the text)?
  • What did (character) do?
  • Where did (character) go after…?
  • What does the word…mean?
  • Which paragraph tells us about…?
  • Can you summarise/tell in your own words what happened in that chapter / paragraph?
  • Which word tells us that (character) is upset/annoyed etc.?
  • Describe what the … looked like?

Themes and Conventions

  • (Explain and discuss understanding of texts; be able to discuss other people’s viewpoints and ideas; explain how language, text structure and presentation can add to the meaning; to read an ever increasing range of texts – both fiction and nonfiction.)
  • Which part of the book do you like the most and why?
  • Why do you like the part where… happens?
  • How do the (e.g. bullet points/subheadings) on page… help you?
  • How do you know that this is a (e.g. fairy tale/information text)?
  • Do you know any other stories that this is similar to?
  • How are they similar?
  • Why is page… like a (e.g. comic strip)?
  • What do you (dis)like about the poem?
  • Would you recommend this book to anyone? Why?

Making Inferences

  • (Deduce, infer or interpret information, events or ideas; compare and contrast; refer to the text to support answers 😉
  • What does (character) think?
  • What does the word…imply?
  • How was (character) feeling when… happened?
  • How was (character) different after…?
  • Why was (character) so (annoyed) when (event) happened?
  • Why did (character) choose to … and what words help you realise that?
  • What are the main events in this chapter?
  • What might happen next?


  • (Check that the book makes sense; discuss their level of understanding and explore the possible meaning of unfamiliar words; question to improve their understanding; retrieve information; identify main points and summarise ideas)
  • What are paragraphs… and … about?
  • Which other words do you know that mean the same as…?
  • Retell what you have read in the correct order.
  • What does (character) do at the end of page…?
  • What does… mean on page…?
  • If you could ask (character) any question, what would it be?

Language for Effect

  • (Recognise and join in with predictable phrases when reading aloud; discuss favourite words or phrases; discuss how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning; discuss words and phrases that capture your imagination.)
  • What does…mean?
  • Which is your favourite word and why?
  • Which words are used to make you feel (happy/sad)?
  • Which phrases are used the most and why?
  • Why is… a good word to use?
  • Choose a different word from… to describe the…