“I just like this book. It’s interesting.”

It’s a typical answer many kids give when asked about a book they’ve been reading.

Also, it’s not a sign of a rich, meaningful conversation parents hope to have. But you shouldn’t beat yourself up. To create such conversations, you need to learn some tricks.

No worries, they’re really easy. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know the best ways to have a great discussion with your kids.

1. Read the Book First

Discussing something you didn’t read isn’t a good way to connect with your kids.

Give that book, story, or poem a quick read to be fully informed.

This is the best way to have a meaningful discussion and answer all questions (they will be some, don’t even doubt that).

Don’t have time to read a long book?

Try to find a summary or notes made by someone else online. There’re lots of websites with reviews, impressions, and summaries out there, so why not read them instead?

Google this:

  • [Book Title] + summary
  • [Book Title] + notes
  • [Book Title] + short version

I do recommend, however, finding time to read the full version. That’s the only way to have the best conversation.

Related: Watch short children’s video poems together. Most videos are under two minutes, plus the memory of the content will be fresh.

2. Focus on Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions require detailed answers, therefore, they can’t be answered with “yes” or “no.”

Dr. Rebecca Swartz, an early learning specialist from The Illinois Early Learning Project, says that adults can create powerful learning opportunities with open-ended questions. Accordingly, they help to build background knowledge that supports language and cognitive skills.

So, open-ended questions encourage kids to express their feelings and thoughts, which is an amazing opportunity. When kids share them, they’re getting an experience that builds their courage and confidence as readers.

So, instead of asking your kid, “Do you like the book you’re reading?”, go for open-ended questions like:

  • “Could you tell me about the book you’re reading?”
  • “How are you liking the book you’re reading?”

Remember this tip. Open-ended questions are essential for what we’re going to do next.

3. Start with Comprehension Questions

Setting, plot, characters, and resolution are the main components of a book. Checking if the kid understands them is a good way to help develop creative and critical thinking.

This is done by asking a series of “strategic” comprehension questions.

Here you go:

  • “Who’s the main character(s) in the book?” – Characters
  • “Where does the story take place?” – Setting
  • “What are the most important events that happened so far?” – Plot
  • “What was the ending?” – Resolution

Focus on the three components to check the comprehension of content. They will give you more discussion points your child might be interested in most.

“Apart from the plot, setting, and characters, ask about the book’s author,” recommends Angela Baker, a writing expert from Supreme Dissertations. “There’s a chance that your kid likes them or has read their books before. So it might be one more good discussion topic.”

4. Facilitate Discussion with Thought-Provoking, Opinion, and Factual Questions

Ask more in-depth questions to support and facilitate the discussion.

We’ll group them into three categories:

  • Thought-provoking questions
  • Factual questions
  • Opinion questions.

The best choice depends on the book. Opinion and factual questions, however, work for every story.

What are good questions to ask about a book? Here are examples to give you an idea.

Thought-Provoking Questions

  • “What was your least liked character? Why?”
  • “Can you think of a better ending for this book?”
  • “If you were the main character, would you have done the same?”
  • “How would you feel if someone has done the same to you as to [character]?”
  • “Do you think a story like this could have happened somewhere?”

Opinion Questions

  • “Would you recommend this book to your friends?”
  • “Should the main character have [done something] differently?”
  • “Do you think [a character] should have helped [the main character]?
  • “Would you rather be [character #1] or [character #2]? Why?”
  • “Who’s your most likable character?”
  • “What’s your favorite part of the book?”
  • “Do you think that [character #1] and [character #2] have any similarities? Differences?”

Talking about opinions will also help your kid to improve academic skills. For example, expressing opinions is an important skill to choose opinion essay topics and expressing thoughts and backing them up.

Factual Questions

  • “What was the name of the character who [did something]?
  • “What’s the most important event that happened to [the main character]?”
  • “How did the [event] impact [the main character]?”
  • “Who’s the main character?”

Why so many questions?

Kids, especially younger ones, might not figure out the main points in books, so they talk about numerous facts and details. By asking questions, you manage the conversation, keep it focused, and help to discover important details.

5. Make Discussion Exciting

Book discussion shouldn’t be just about asking your kid a bunch of questions. To make your conversation as exciting as it should be, you should model excitement.

  • Be truly interested. The first step is to be really interested in having a conversation. Your kid will recognize it if you’re not paying attention and listening to them.
  • Use “I can’t believe it” or “Wow” to express something that surprised you. If your kid tells you an unexpected detail or plot twist.
  • Take turns speaking. Never interrupt your kid, but make sure to react to funny, scary, or shocking parts.
  • Praise for doing a good job. Make sure to acknowledge achievements and give credit for figuring out answers to your questions.

These tips might sound silly. Still, they will help to make every book/story/poem discussion as exciting as possible.

Next Steps?

How about finding a great book for your kid?

This website has the most amazing collection of children’s fairy tales, poems, and books to choose from.

Adventures? Stories about good manners? African stories? Stories for kids under four years of age? You can choose stories by age, topic, and even reading duration. The search is super easy and simple.

Happy searching and have amazing book talks!

About the Author – Donald Fomby is a freelance writer. He’s a frequent contributor to numerous websites because of his passion for connecting people to content that can make a difference in their lives. Outside work, you’ll find Donald learning how to play the piano or on a basketball court.