Engaging Readers in Questioning and Discussion

Nick ColbertEvents, Volunteers


WITS held another installment of our series known as WITS Talks. WITS Talks provide volunteers with information on working with students during programs. The subject of our January WITS Talks was “Engaging Readers in Questioning and Discussion”, facilitated by Chicago educator and Learning & Behavior Specialist, Jessica Uzoh. The best way to engage readers is to help cultivate their reading identity. Watch the video or read on to learn how to support an emerging reader in cultivating their reading identity while learning different types of texts for students, reading skills, and depths of thinking students need.

Cultivating Reading Identity

How can we inspire children to identify as readers? It is a task of many teachers and literacy mentors. It takes the ability to translate what’s being read into something that is relevant or tangible for young students. Teaching and learning both work best when they go two ways; as in students should be co-creators of knowledge. Through this approach a student can truly feel their contribution is valid.

Types of Texts for Readers
  • Emergent Story Books (Brown Bear, Brown Bear)
    • Stories that have characters, a problem and solution
    • Have pictures that closely match text
    • Highly engaging and memorable stories
    • Rich and beautiful literary language, ex: fairy tales & folktales
  • Early Readers (Elephant & Piggie)
    • Short sentences and larger font
    • Pictures support text and aid reading in figuring out unknown words
    • Repetitive sentences, sometimes rhyming words to help early readers predict and decode unknown words
  • Easy Chapter Books (Mercy Watson)
    • Larger font and shorter sentences
    • Conventional plot with a problem and solution
  • Graphic Novels & Comic Books
    • Graphic Novel (Amulet)
      • Follow tradition plot structure and will conclude in one book
      • Longer and more complex than comic books
    • Comic Books (Black Panther)
      • Shorter texts and less complex than graphic novels
      • Story and plot takes place across several issues/books
    • Longer Chapter Books (Rules)
      • May have illustrations
      • Traditional plot structure and asks reader to infer
Proficient readers can do the following eight actions:
  • Activate prior knowledge – and make connections before, during and after reading
  • Determine importance – understand the most significant events in fiction and main idea in nonfiction
  • Visualize – able to hear, see, smell, and feel what’s described in the text
  • Infer – form judgments and make predictions
  • Question – read with curiosity
  • Retell & Synthesize – figure out how parts of a text fit together
  • Monitor for meaning – monitor their own understanding, fix confusion and understand new vocabulary
Depth of Thinking
  • Level 1 – Recall
    • Recall elements and details of story structure such as sequence of character, plot and setting
  • Level 2 – Skill/Concept
    • Identify and summarize the major events in narrative
    • Describe the cause & effect of an event
  • Level 3 – Strategic Thinking
    • Apply a concept in other contexts
    • Determine the author’s purpose and describe how it affects the interpretation of a reading selection
  • Level 4 – Extended Thinking
    • Synthesize information from multiple sources
    • Describe and illustrate how common themes are found across texts

Check out other great volunteer training and learn more about WITS.