PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

Conversations About Reading & Writing

Happy December Fifth Grade Families!

At conferences in November, many families had asked how to help their children at home with reading and writing. 

Having conversations about reading and writing is one of the best ways to help children with their literacy development. Talking about their thinking, choices, and work is a way for adults to show their curiosity without too much intervention.

It’s important for children to know that their reading and writing choices matter, that they have ownership over their work, and that it’s their responsibility to shoulder the workload. Conversations with children about books and writing also shows the value that you place on literacy.  Attention equates importance.

Questions to ask while reading:

ALWAYS Follow-up a response with, “What makes you say that?” or “Say more about that.”

  • Describe your favorite part of the book.
  • Was there anything in the book that surprised you?
  • If you could be a character in the book for one day, who would you choose to be? Why?
  • If this book was turned into a movie, which actors would like to see play each character?
  • If one of the characters could come to your house for dinner, who would you like to come visit?
  • If you had to pick one color to describe the book, what color would you pick? Why?
  • If you had to describe this book in one word, what word would you choose?
  • How did the setting of the story impact the characters?
  • Describe some of the most important character interactions in the book.
  • Were you satisfied with the ending of the story? Why?
  • Were there any new words that you learned from reading the book?
  • If you could ask the author one question, what would you ask?
  • What questions do you have after reading the book?
  • Do you have a friend who you think would like this book? Who is it? Why?
  • Does this author have any other books? Have you read any of them?
  • What do you wish was different about the ending?
  • What do you think the author wants readers to remember most from this book?
  • What do you think the message or theme of this book is?

Questions to ask about writing:

These questions are primarily from Carl Anderson, the writing conference guru. You can always start by simply asking, “What are you working on?” or “How’s it going?” 

Let your child take the lead in walking you through their writing piece before you begin to ask more questions.

  • What do you think you’ll write about?
  • Why did you choose that?
  • Where will you start?
  • What can I help you with today?
  • Do you think you have more than one story here?
  • What is the most important thing you’re trying to say here?
  • Do all the parts of your story fit?
  • Can you tell me more about this?
  • This part isn’t clear to me.  Can you tell me what you mean?
  • Can you describe this for me?
  • What next?
  • Are you happy with your lead/ending?
  • Can you be more specific here?
  • Is this the best word here?
  • Can you think of a different way to say this?
  • What do you think you can do to make this draft better?
  • What works so well you’d like to try to develop it further?
  • What did you learn from this piece of writing?
  • Can you think of something you tried in this draft that you’ve never tried before?


Happy Reading and Writing!

Ms. Sonya