As you read, you should be mentally asking questions that can be answered by explicit information you can physically point out in the passage. You “recall” or “remember” facts and details that answer questions such as who, what, where, and when.
Examples reading on the line for recall questions from “By the Waters of Babylon”:
In which direction is it forbidden for the narrator’s people to travel?
What does the narrator tell about the Place of the Gods?
Proficient readers make interpretations based upon details in the text. As you read, you should be asking questions that can be answered by making inferences and assumptions based upon evidence in the text, such as “What does a detail or image represent, suggest, or personify?”
Generate questions that can be answered by interpreting, classifying, comparing, contrasting, and finding patterns. These questions are “interpretive” questions.
Example reading between the lines for interpretive questions from “By the Waters of Babylon”:
Why does the author use a priest and the son of a priest to tell his story?
Compare the legends and the priest’s stories about the Place of the Gods. Why do you think such different stories arose?
As you read, you should move beyond the text to connect to universal meaning. Ask mental questions like, “How does this text connect with my life, with life in a larger sense for all human beings, with my ideas about morality or values?” These questions are open-ended and go beyond the text. They are intended to provoke a discussion of abstract issues and thematic concerns.
Generate questions that can be answered by connecting literature to your own experiences or to universal meanings. These questions begin with ideas in the text but move from the “what?” of the text to the “so what?” of the text—the abstract issues and thematic concerns. Specific textual references are NOT included.
Example universal meaning questions from “By the Waters of Babylon”:
1) Explain the social commentary this story seems to be making on one of the following topics: technology, war, knowledge, autonomy.
2) What are the essential qualities or characteristics for a “civilized” society?