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 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 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 or stay the same?
  • 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?

Open Response "THICK" Questions for Nonfiction
Grades 3-5


  • How will the pictures and other visuals help you understand the text?
  • What do you think you will learn about?  (Look at cover, title, pictures and table of contents.)
  • Do you now anything about this topic already?  Write down what you know.
  • Look for subtitles, bold words, pictures or graphics.  What do these tell you?
  • Write down questions you have about this topic that you hope to learn.
  • Why would the author write this?
  • Why did you choose this book to read?
  • What do you visualize when you think about this topic?
  • Do you think you will enjoy reading this?  Why or why not?
  • If you already know about this topic, where did you learn it?
  • Do you have any connections with the topic?


  • What words are you stuck on?  How can you find out what they mean?
  • How does the information relate to what you already know?
  • Are you confused?  How can you fix that?
  • Have any of your questions been answered?  What questions do you still have?
  • Find two words that are key to the section you are reading now.  Why are these words important?
  • Write 3 important facts that you have learned so far.
  • Explain what happened in the last paragraph you read.
  • Describe what you visualized as you read.
  • What has surprised you about this topic?


  • Was the author trying to persuade you or change your mind in this text?  If so, how?
  • Write what you have learned about this topic.
  • What was the most important thing you learned and why?  What was the most interesting thing you learned and why?
  • Did you change your mind about anything after reading this text?
  • Did what you read make you think of something else you already know about?
  • How do you know this is nonfiction?  What words let you know?
  • Why did the author write this?
  • Do you think other people should read this?  Why or why not?
  • What questions do you still have?
  • How can you use the information that you have learned?
  • Does this book make you want to learn more about this topic?  Why or why not?
  • How did you read this book differently than a fiction book?
  • Describe some professions related to this topic.  What kinds of work do these people do?
  • What cause/effect relationships did you learn about?
  • Do you think bias exists in this book/article?


These do not require much thought.




Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed., CAGS. "Open Ended Questions." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 9 May 2012. Web. <>.

Graphics from Google Images.  Right click on them.


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