3 Types of Comprehension Questions to Ask

Reading comprehension is the skill of reading a text, understanding what it is saying, and making personal connections. How do you, as a teacher, help your students master this skill? By asking the right type of questions!

Let me tell you a story about when I did NOT know the right questions to ask.

We have a Goldendoodle dog named Penny. She was a puppy at the time, so it was our first time taking her to get groomed. We had never had a dog who needed to be groomed before and had no clue what to expect.

When my husband dropped her off, we didn’t ask any questions about how they normally cut a Goldendoodle or what we should expect when we came to pick her up.

Needless to say, we were a bit surprised when our cute fluffy dog looked like a completely different dog when we went to pick her up.

We weren’t happy with her haircut. The problem is… we didn’t even know what questions to ask to get the result we wanted. And that is half the battle!

As with dog grooming or anything else in life… we need to know the right questions to ask when teaching reading comprehension to check for understanding.

What are the 3 Types of Comprehension Questions should you ask?

When it comes to teaching reading comprehension to kids, there are three types of questions that we make sure to include in our teaching (and our reading passages!):

Activating Background Knowledge

Like my story about getting Penny groomed, I like to do something with the kids to help them activate their background knowledge before they read about a topic. One of the best ways to do this is to have an activating background knowledge question about a passage before the kids begin reading.

Our reading passage, Volleyball Club, which we have differentiated for each grade in our Differentiated Reading Comprehension and Fluency Passages, is about a girl named Song who tries out for the Volleyball team but doesn’t make it. Song talks about her disappointment with her friend, Nia, who then invites Song to join a Volleyball Club.

For this passage, the “Activating Background Knowledge” question goes something like this, “Describe a time when you felt disappointed. What made you feel better?” Everyone has had an experience that they can write about, and by getting into that mindset, they can relate better to Song in the story.

Would you like to learn more about activating background knowledge? You can read more about this critical reading skill that helps boost reading comprehension in this blog post.

Comprehension Questions from the Text

This is the type of comprehension question we most often think about with reading comprehension. “Comprehension Questions” refer back to the text. We include both multiple-choice and free-response questions that hit the core standards for each grade in our passages.

Our Volleyball Club reading passage includes “Comprehension Questions” such as:

  • Who is telling this story?
  • What is the message of this story?
  • How do Song’s feelings change throughout the story?

To help children practice referring back to the text to find their answers, we put a crayon next to these questions, so children can use that color to underline where they found their answer.

Deeper Thinking Questions

The answers to these questions aren’t given directly in the text but will require students to reflect on the text and dig deeper. Asking “Deeper Thinking Questions” is also a great way to integrate other grade-level standards into your reading lessons by asking questions that will practice those skills.

The final question for the Volleyball Club passage asks, “ What helped Song to feel better again?”

All of our Wife Teacher Mommy reading passages come differentiated for reading levels. They include all three types of comprehension questions.

Want to Make Asking These 3 Types of Comprehension Questions Easier? Check out our Reading Comprehension Passages!

Want to check out our Differentiated Reading Comprehension and Fluency passages that already include all three of these types of questions? These comprehensive resources make a huge difference in helping kids grow confident in their reading skills throughout the entire year!

Check out what Amy had to say about these passages:

“AMAZING bundle. I love that the storylines continue across all grade levels so I can differentiate from more than one grade level without needing multiple stories. It is great for comprehension practice so we can all discuss the elements of the story together while providing both my lowest and highest readers with options that are best suited to them. Absolute amazing timesaver!!”

Want to try them first? Check out our FREE reading passages here.

Free, differentiated reading comprehension & fluency passages

I hope you found this helpful! What kind of questions do you like to ask?

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