Reader Response Questions Help Students Focus and Reflect on Literature
Reader Response Prompts for Fiction
reader response questions
1. Explain a character's problem and then offer your character advice on how to solve his/her problem.
2. Explain how a character is acting and why you think the character is acting that way.
3. From what you've read so far, make predictions about what will happen next and explain what in the text makes you think it will happen.
4. Pick one character and explain why you would/would not like to have him/her as a friend.
5. Describe and explain why you would/would not like to have lived in the time or place of the story.
6. What real-life people or events are you reminded of by characters or events in the story? Explain why.
7. Write about what would happen if you brought one of your characters to school or home for a day.
8. Pick a scene in which you disagreed how a character handled a situation/person and rewrite it in the way you think it should have happened.
9. What quality of which character strikes you as a good characteristic to develop within yourself over the years? Why? How does the character demonstrate this quality?
10. Who tells the story? Is this the best person to tell it? Why?
11. How would the story be different if told through another character's eyes?
12. Why do you think the author wrote this story?
13. If you were the author, would you have ended the story in a different way? Why? How so?
14. How does the character's actions affect other people in the story?
15. How does the author provide information or details to make the story seem realistic?
16. How does the author help you feel that you are really there (in both realistic stories and fantasy)?
17. Do you have any unanswered questions about the story? Explain.
18. Copy an interesting/confusing/important/enjoyable passage and explain why you chose it.
19. From what you've read so far, make predictions about what will happen next and explain what in the text makes you think it will happen.
Reader Response Prompts for Nonfiction
reader response questions
20. Copy a short passage that you found to be interesting. Explain what made it interesting for you.
21. Write a summary of what you read in your book today.
22. Explain some of the things that you have learned so far that you are not likely to forget in the near future.
23. Write to inform us about the author. What other articles and/or books has the author written? Is he/she one of your favorite authors, and if so, why?
24. What ideas might you have for turning this work of nonfiction into a work of fiction? Give a brief summary of what your story might be like.
25. Explain the basic information that is being presented in terms of the 5W's: Who? What? When? Where? Why?
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Preparing for Writing
Teachers can help their students prepare for written response by carefully considering the following questions posed and explained by Katherine Schlick Noe:
What are my goals for students' writing? For example, if I want my students to come to their discussions with their ideas already in mind, I may ask them to jot a few notes about what stood out for them as they read their book or golden lines (provocative quotes from the book) in their journals. In that case, writing is intended as a thinking tool. On the other hand, I may want my students to build on their discussion by taking one specific topic and developing it more thoroughly through writing. Writing then becomes a way for students to show what they know, how they feel, or what matters to them about what they read. Each goal will lead to a different way of preparing students to write.
What expectations do I have about the form of writing? For example, am I expecting students to generate polished responses, or more off-the-cuff? Do students have options in what format they choose for their journals? Many teachers include sketching as a component of journals because they recognize that some students can express their ideas more fluidly by drawing, and some books inspire visual responses more than verbal ones. In addition, successful journal assignments can arise from students and teachers brainstorming varied forms of response. I've seen many examples of students who come up with innovative questions in their journals that then become one of the response options for the whole class.
What forms of modeling and demonstration will help my students in their journal responses? Good written response, just as skilled conversations, doesn't happen by magic. Most students need help understanding how to write with clarity and insight. For example, if you want your students to delve into characters' motivations and choices, you may need to model your own response in front of them and help them pick out the words writers use to get across a point. Many great literature circles teachers I know will try out any writing assignment in front of their students - perhaps writing on the overhead or on chart paper and thinking aloud as they go. This makes the composing process more visible to students. In addition, teachers can save student writing and use it (anonymously and with the author's permission) as examples in later classes. One teacher I know says that her students live to become overhead transparencies!
Finally, what feels reasonable? One of the most powerful insights about journals that I experienced was in conversation with two teachers who took part in an adult literature circle with several teaching colleagues at various grade levels. These teachers were trying out the different components of literature circles in their own book group so that they'd have a better idea of what worked and what didn't for them as readers. The group quickly discovered that writing in journals several times a week (as they were asking of their students) got to be very tedious. They didn't have that much new to say, and several of their members refused to continue. The teachers laughed when they told me they'd realized that's how their students probably felt. So they cut back on the number of required responses and worked harder on generating writing prompts with -- instead of for-- their students.
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