Grandma Bird / Before Reading / /

Front Cover Clues

Generating questions based on the front cover.

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from Grandma Bird series

Text potential

  • Visual language: Narrative elements


  • English
  • Reading

Strategies used

  • Prediction


Experienced and skilled readers ask questions. Sometimes these are pondered privately, and at other times they might be asked to seek clarification. Young children will often ask questions to satisfy their curiosity about the world in which they live. Questioning to make sense of the world applies to reading as well as to general encounters with the world.

Holding a Quescussion encourages children to question as they read. It is used as a precursor to the discussion. The technique is best utilised to energise a group that is reticent at asking questions. It can also be used as a strategy for analysing questions and for helping children identify the questions that have the greatest potential for discussion.


  • Have available copies of the front cover or copies of Grandma Bird, at least one between two.


In this session, you will hold a Quescussion about the front cover.

A few simple rules:

  • The discussion can only contain questions.
  • A child who asks a question must wait until another question has been asked before offering another question themselves.
  • Questions are asked without the need to raise hands. The teacher only intervenes if more than one pupil speaks at the same time.
  • The teacher can stop the Quescussion to help the pupils think about the type of questions they are asking. For instance, if they mainly ask closed questions, they can be encouraged to ask open-ended questions. If only factual, obvious questions are being asked, they can be encouraged to ask questions about thoughts or feelings. They can also be encouraged to ask clarification questions, for instance, about the meaning of words.

You may need to start by modelling and asking a few questions, though this may not be necessary. Ensure the children are given sufficient thinking time before you prompt.

Some example questions:

  • Where are they going?
  • What is the boy pointing at?
  • Is the boy fishing?
  • Are they on their way home?
  • Is it their boat?
  • Is the bird following them?

Scribe the questions as they are offered.

The questions can be organised and used to structure future discussions. Involve the children in grouping the questions:

  • Can we find all the questions about the characters?
  • Can we find all the questions about what is happening?
  • Can we find all the questions about what is going to happen?

Teacher’s Note: After the session, you can decide which questions will lead to the most fruitful lines of investigation/discussion and use them as the basis for a future session.

Final reflection

  • Does the front cover give us clues about what the story will be about?

Write or draw predictions on sticky notes and display them to revisit once you have read the book.

Key vocabulary

question, questioning


Nikki Gamble

Nikki Gamble
Director, Just Imagine
Nikki has worked extensively in schools across the UK and internationally. She is the author of Exploring Children’s Literature (4th edit) (2019) and co-author of Guiding Readers (2016) which was awarded the UKLA Academic Book of the Year Award 2017. Nikki is KS2 reading advisor and series consultant for Oxford University Press and content creator for the Oxford School Improvement and Oxford Owl websites. Nikki is Associate Consultant at the University of London, Institute of Education and Honorary Fellow at the University of Winchester

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Sam Keeley

Formerly a teacher and local authority advisory teacher, Sam now works with Just Imagine as an English consultant and manager of the year 6 Reading Gladiators programme.

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