In order to determine the depth of students’ reading comprehension, teachers should ask them a variety of thick and thin questions.
Thin questions are short, close-ended questions easily answered in one or a few words. Answers may be directly stated in the text or common knowledge that doesn’t require much thought.
Thick questions, on the other hand, require a deeper level of understanding and prompt students to use critical thinking skills. These open-ended questions involve looking at the big picture and making connections between concepts.
Thick questions encourage students to apply, infer, predict, analyze, justify and activate prior knowledge plus personal experiences in order to make sense of the reading.
While it is important to incorporate both thin and thick questions when reading, it is thick questions that especially help teachers in determining how well students are comprehending what they are reading.
The issue, however, is finding enough good questions to ask.
So I’ve compiled a list of the best thick and thin questions. Use them with any book, video, or dialogue in order to assess how well students understand what they are consuming.
Thick and Thin Questions
Following you will find many examples of thin and thick questions for all grades that may be used as part of literacy-based lessons and activities.
5. How many?
6. What has happened so far in the book?
7. List five words in the story that start with the same sound.
8. List five words in the story that are examples of _____.
9. What is happening in this picture?
10. How would you describe your favorite character?
11. What problem needs to be solved?
12. What did you learn that you didn’t know before?
13. Does this book have pictures or illustrations?
14. Who is the main character?
15. Who are the other characters?
16. What does this word mean?
17. Where in the book would you find_____?
18. What is the character’s name?
19. Where does she live?
20. What is the setting?
21. Where does the story take place?
22. What year was this book written?
23. When did the story take place?
24. What does she or he look like?
25. Which text features do you see on this page?
26. What is the title of the book?
27. Who is the author and the illustrator?
28. What happened at the beginning, middle, and end of the story?
29. Can you show me where the last area is located?
30. What new words did you learn while reading?
31. Does this text have a table of contents?
32. What is 1 new fact that you learned?
33. Is this book fiction or nonfiction?
34. What was the solution?
35. How many chapters does this book have?
37. What is meant by_____?
38. How can you use_____?
39. What is the impact of _____?
40. _____(character’s name) must be feeling_____. What clues help you to know that?
41. What is the cause of _____?
42. What can be done to improve_____?
43. What is the effect of _____?
44. Why do you think the author_____?
45. What is the influence of_____?
46. What might_____?
47. How did_____?
48. What would happen if_____?
49. What is the relationship between _____?
50. What if_____?
51. Would you agree that_____?
52. What is the result of_____?
53. How would you feel if_____?
54. What do you think about_____?
55. What did the author mean by_____?
56. What part of the reading was funniest?
57. Based on the character’s traits, what can you predict will happen?
58. What is this story about?
59. Is there anything you understand in a new way after reading?
60. What do you already know that helped you make that prediction?
61. How do the illustrations support the text?
62. What part was most exciting and why?
63. Where in the text is your prediction proved correct?
64. What important information do you feel is missing from the story?
65. How would you describe the main character’s traits?
66. Do you agree or disagree with the ideas presented here?
67. What would make someone interested in reading this book?
68. Based on what this character said, how do you think he/she is feeling?
69. What could happen next? Why do you think this?
70. Which ideas are most interesting to you and why?
71. What would have made this story more interesting?
72. Can you predict what is going to happen next?
73. Will you provide an example of how symbolism is used in the book?
74. Would you do the same thing in this situation?
75. What genre is this book? How do you know?
76. Does (insert concept or topic) make more sense to you now after reading this?
77. Why did the character do that?
78. What event was significant in this story and why?
79. How does the author make the reading come alive?
80. Does this part remind you of anything?
81. How are these two characters alike?
82. What do you wonder about after reading this part?
83. Looking at the chapter title and subheadings, what do you think will happen in the story?
84. Why did you make that prediction?
85. How is the setting important?
86. What part in this story is unbelievable and why?
87. Which parts of the story are critical for understanding?
88. Does this book remind you other another text you’ve read?
89. How do the illustrations aid your understanding?
90. What can you tell about the character from his/her actions?
91. Would you recommend this book to someone? Why or why not?
92. How is the text organized?
93. If you were a character in the story, would you have reacted the same way? Why or why not?
94. What is the most important part in this passage or story?
95. Are you able to tell me examples of figurative language used in the story?
96. How can you support your predictions with evidence from the book or your personal experience?
97. Why do you think the author wrote this book?
98. Are the author’s ideas facts or his/her opinions about the topic? Why do you think this?
99. How did the author make the text enjoyable?
100. Can you point to something in the book that helped you make that prediction?
101. Will you share a part in the text where you had to make an inference?
102. What have you learned from the charts and graphs?
103. How do the text features aid your understanding?
104. Which events led to the problem in the story?
105. What would be a good alternative ending for the story?
106. Have you changed your mind about something after reading the text?
107. Which things were facts, and which were opinions?
108. What would be another good title for this story?
Final Thoughts On Thick and Thin Questions
Thin questions are surface-level questions that require short, simple answers. Thick questions require more thought and may even prompt a discussion.
Use both types to assess students’ level of thinking and understanding as they read books, watch videos, or engage in lively conversations.