The Place for Expert Reading Advice

The Place for Expert Reading Advice

Reading Spotlight Blog - Books As Gifts Part 2

Under The Blotter: Engagement Questions

Now that you have used what you knew about students’ out-of-school interests to choose the book(s) that you gave as presents for the holidays

How to Make Books Great Gifts

let’s talk about the second key to effective book gift-giving:

  • Discussion

There are three basic types of class engagement: emotional, cognitive, and behavioral, but I have kept these particular reading engagement questions under my desk blotter for many, many years—so many that I don’t even know who did the research for them, but I do know these questions are effective at improving reading motivation, in the person who responds, AND in those who listen to the responses, as in, my students, in my classes. I retained them to use as a reference, so that I could tailor certain questions to particular students.

After typing the questions on a 5 x 7 index card, front and back, I laminated it and used it often—so often that it became worn with curled and open edges, and I had to do it again several years later, and then again, several more years later. I kept them easily accessible Under My Blotter. Obviously, I think these questions are effective, so here they are for you.



  1. How does this story make you feel?
  2. What happened in the story to make you feel this way/ Why?
  3. How could the author make you feel differently about this story?
  4. What other stories make you feel this way?
  5. What else makes you feel this way?
  6. What part of the story made you feel the best?


CRITIQUE QUESTIONS             (Side 2)

  1. How appealing and worthy is this story?
  2. Is this story one that most students should read? Why or Why Not?
  3. How did the writer help you understand the story?
  4. Were the pictures helpful in telling the story? Did they make the meaning clear?
  5. Which part of the story was the most interesting to you? Why?
  6. Would you recommend this story to others? Why or why not?


Also, you might want to consider giving a different kind of engaging gift next month:


Valentines and Adjectives: Little Love Letters


These little notes help to improve vocabulary and understanding of adjectives as students write meaningful and “engaging” little notes to all classmates—so much better than those artificial preprinted Valentines!



And…congratulations on your new engagement … (questions)!



© Reading Spotlight 2022


Here are some interesting blog posts from my friends at TBOTEMC:

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