Friday, October 4, 2019

Question and Answer Text Structure

Since 2019 marks the 10th Anniversary of this blog, on Fridays this year, I’m resurrecting and updating old posts that sparked a lot of conversation or that I think still have a lot to offer people teaching or writing nonfiction. Today’s essay is an update of a post that originally appeared on June 1, 2016.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, most state ELA state standards currently emphasize five major nonfiction text structures—description, sequence, compare & contrast, problem-solutions, and cause and effect. But the truth is that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to text structure.

Some books have a one-of-a-kind text structure that reinforces the book’s content, but there are also a couple of other text structures that are common in children’s nonfiction. One of them is question and answer.

Not only is Q&A a powerful way to organize information, it can also add a fun, interactive game-like quality to a book. And that’s not all. Because the Q&A format is easy for even young children to identify, it’s a great window into text structures. It can help students get their feet wet before immersing themselves in text structures that are more difficult to grasp and differentiate.

Here are some great examples:

Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons by Sara Levine (also compare & contrast)

Can an Aardvark Bark? by Melissa Stewart

Do Sharks Glow in the Dark? . . . and Other Shark-tastic Questions by Mary Kay Carson

Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones by Sara Levine (also compare & contrast)

Hatch! by Roxie Munro

Hello, Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde

How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly? by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers by Sara Levine (also compare & contrast)

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Larvae: A Guide for Insect Parents (and Curious Kids) by Bridget Heos


  1. Love Sara's books and the Larvae book is pretty hilarious too. They're all very lively texts

  2. Thanks Melissa, I like this text structure. I'm going to catch up with the ones I haven't read yet!