Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Books That Ask a Question- Monthly Challenge

By Janie Reinart

Embed from Getty Images

     Children never stop asking questions. They have a sense of wonder and curiosity. Can 

you guess how many questions a child asks in a day?  Use the question and answer format 

in a story to hook your reader. 

     Look at the surprising way each poetic element is used in a question in Pablo Neruda’s 

Book of Questions (El libro de preguntas)translated by William O’Daly.

                          What did the tree learn of the earth
                          to confide to the sky?
                          At whom is the rice grinning
                          with its infinite white teeth?
                          Who’s the magnolia kidding
                          with its lemon’s aroma?
                          In the sky over Colombia
                          is there a collector of clouds?
                          How do the seasons discover
                          it’s time to change shirts?

      The poem, Dreamland by Carole Boston Weatherford uses questions to tell the story.

        Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino, has a very unique format. Each rhymed question

is a riddle with the answers hitting the page turns.

     Tracy Nelson Maurer used the question and answer format in her book, John Deere,
That's Who!

"Who moved to Illinois, where farmers were struggling to plow through the thick, rich soil 
they called gumbo? Who tinkered and tweaked and tested until he invented a steel plow that 
sliced into the prairie easy as you please? Long before the first tractor, who changed 
farming forever? John Deere, that’s who!"

     The author, Nancy Patz saw the hat on display in the Jewish Historical Museum in 

Amsterdam. The reflective poem is a tribute to this unknown woman's life.

"What was she like? Did she lie awake in the morning and watch  the way I did today,  as 

dawn brushed light through the sky?"

     Ready for some silly questions?  Corinne Demas gives fun facts in the question and answer

format in her book, Do Doodlebugs Doodle?

"Do bed bugs wear pajamas? 

Do dragonflies breathe fire? 

Do stink bugs take baths?" 

So what do you think? Are you ready to try?  What questions will your story ask and 


I'm curious. Let us know in the comments below.  Happy writing.


  1. Aww, a few new ones for my TBR list, Janie. I love asking questions in my stories.

  2. Clever! Looks like some new books to read. My question will be "Do you have this book?" ;)

  3. I used a question format for my first two books, A Warm Winter Tail and A Cool Summer Tail, about animal adaptation to changes in temperature. A repeating question -- "How do humans stay warm in the winter, Mama?"-- appears on the left side of the spread and the answer appears on the right side. Children like the structure because they can anticipate and "read" the next page.

  4. Thanks for this post. I never thought about asking questions, but my newest book is YOU KNOW WHAT? and Oliver continues throughout the book to ask that...of course, he's using that tactic to delay his bedtime. I didn't think about tapping into children's natural instinct to ask lots of questions. But I'm thinking about it now! Happy writing.

  5. New books to read and questions to contemplate! Thank you, Janie, for this refreshing look into finding the right ideas and the questions to ponder.

  6. Love the questions! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thanks Janie for a fun post. I've never seen "Do Doodle Bugs Doodle"? Ordered from Library as well as "John Deere". Looking forward to reading through them. Of course, "Can and Aadvark Bark" by Melissa Stewart is a another question/answer text. Glad you found 'new' ones for me to study. Thanks

  8. It sounds easy - just ask questions. But the trick is ordering those questions so each is interesting and grabs the readers attention and imagination.

  9. I recently read John Deere & agree that the question/answer format worked so well to draw me into that story. Thanks for highlighting some other question/answer #PBs & for the encouragement to try this format in our own writing.

    1. My pleasure. It’s always fun to play with words.