How to Have a Conversation with Kids about What They are Reading

Don’t just stop at reading! Take it to the next level by having conversations with your child about what they’re reading. Here are a few conversation starters. 

By Momentous Institute | Jun 10, 2022
Conversation Reading

Reading is one of the best activities children can engage in. It opens them up to new worlds, fosters imagination and creativity, and improves language and academic skills. As parents and caregivers, you can take reading to new levels by engaging in conversation with your children about what they’re reading. This adds to the benefits of reading by layering in complex thinking, perspective taking and empathy… oh, and also strengthening the bond between child and parent.

So don’t just stop at reading! Try talking to your child about what they’re reading to add all those other wonderful benefits.

Let’s look at ways to have conversations with kids about what they’re reading…


Younger Children

If you’re reading together with younger children, it can be easier to ask questions and engage in conversation. Any book can facilitate discussion! Even silly books about mermaids or dragons can lead to a conversation.

You can start with basic comprehension questions, such as:

What was this book about?

What happened in the beginning, the middle and the end of this story?


Then dive into more complex questions, such as:

Did anything in the story remind you of something that has happened in your life or to anyone you know? What was it? How was it similar?

What do you think you would have done in a situation like that?

How did this book make you feel? Why?


Older Children

Older children often read independently, making it a little harder to engage in conversation. Many times, parents either aren’t familiar with the book their child is reading or they’ve skimmed the books but haven’t read them. This is a great opportunity to make the child the expert!

Again, start with more basic questions to create the opportunity for the child to teach you about the book, such as:

What is the main theme/plot of the story?

Who are the main characters? Do you relate to any of them? Who do you like or dislike the most?


Then you can layer in more complex questions, such as:

What sort of challenges did the character(s) in this book face? How did they respond?

Did the characters in the book make good or bad choices? Did you agree with what they did? Why do you feel that way?

Did this book make you think about anything in a new way? Did it introduce a new idea or change your mind about something?

Was anything about this book relatable to your own life? In what way?


Reading/Listening to Books Together

For parents of kids of all ages, reading or listening to books together is a great way to connect. Older kids often shift to spending less time with parents and more time alone and with peers. But reading can be one thing that brings the relationship back together. Consider reading one chapter a night of a longer book or commit to a series you both like. Or consider listening to books! Do you have a road trip planned? Do you have 15 or more-minute stretches in the car? Do you clean the dishes together after dinner? Any of these are great opportunities to listen to an audiobook and have a discussion.

Consider prompts such as:

What do you think of this story? Why?

Do you like the characters? Why or why not? Who do you relate to the most?

Do the characters in this story show integrity? Why or why not?

For our next book, what should we look for? Something similar to this or different?