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Open Ended Questions


Ask, and get your students to ask each other THICK questions:

  • What if…?
  • How did…?
  • Why did…?
  • What would happen if…?
  • What caused…?
  • What might…?
  • How would you feel…?
  • What character traits describe…?
  • Why do you think…?
  • Why is…?
Here are some of my favorite THICK questions for fiction, and some for nonfiction.


Open Response “THICK” Questions for Fiction
Grades 3-5


BEFORE. . . Read the title, book jacket, and flip through the text, then:


  • Write what you know about this topic ~ the setting, the situations in pictures. . . .
  • Make a prediction.  What clues helped you?  Read the first page.  Do you need to revise your prediction?
  • Write questions you have about this text.
  • Do you think this story will be funny, sad, scary or something else?  Why?
  • Read the first page.  Does the author make you want to keep reading?  Do you think you will like this story?  Why or why not?
  • Do you think this story COULD happen in real life?  Why or why not?
  • Where does the story take place?  What makes you think so?
  • Who is the main character?  What clues did you use?
  • Do you have any connections ~ is the author, illustrator, or subject matter familiar to you?




  • What questions do you have so far?  Were previous questions answered?
  • Describe in detail what you think the main character or setting looks like.  (Visualizing)  What adjectives and adverbs in the story helped you visualize?
  • What connections are you making?
  • Which words are you stuck on?  Did you figure out their meanings?  What are the meanings?
  • What do you think will happen next?  How do you think the story will end?
  • Who is your favorite character so far and why?
  • If a character is telling the story, who is it?  Describe this character.
  • Does the main character remind you of yourself?  Compare and/or contrast.
  • What are some clues of how the main character is feeling?
  • What are some reasons that the main character does what he/she is doing?
  • How does the story make you feel and why?
  • What problem does the main character have?  How do you predict will he/she will solve it?
  • Is the story what you thought it would be about?  If not, what surprised you?
  • Summarize what has happened so far.
  • If you could talk to the main character, what would you say?
  • Would you like to live in this place or time?  Tell why or why not.
  • What obstacles does the setting provide that the main character must overcome?  Would this story work in another setting?
  • Is there an antagonist (someone who provides an obstacle) to the main character?  What details lead you to say this?  




  • CHARACTER TRAITS:  In a word, describe the main character.  Support this one word using specific actions of the character from the story.
  • Was the author trying to teach a lesson?  If so, what was the lesson?
  • Would you recommend this book to others and if so to who?
  • What unanswered questions do you have?
  • Tell what the problem was, and how the character solved his problem.
  • If the story happened to you, how would you feel?
  • Were you surprised at any parts?  Which parts?
  • What advice would you have given the main character?
  • Which character did you like most and why?
  • Which character was most like you?  How?
  • Describe how the character changed from beginning to end of the story.
  • What was the climax of the story?
  • Was this fiction or realistic fiction?  How do you know?
  • What connections did you make?
  • Summarize the ending.
  • What 5 questions would you ask the author?  Pick one, and write how you think the author might answer it.
  • What was the author’s message?
  • How would the characters’ actions change if there was a different setting or time period?
  • How would the solution change if it happened in a different setting or time period?
  • Did the characters change during the story (round) or stay the same (flat)?
  • Describe 2 events that portray the character’s personality.
  • What scene would make a good trailer for a movie?  Would this book work well as a movie?
  • If you eliminated one of the characters, how would the story change?
  • If you were the main character, would you have done things differently?  What?  How?  Why?