Questioning & Inferring Mentor Text

Hi everyone! I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties to share a thought-provoking picture book (my favorite kind!) . I haven't read it with my class yet, but I'm planning to use it this week to practice questioning and inferring. The Three Questions is based on a short story by Leo Tolstoy. It's magical and inspiring- perfect for any grade!

Blog post about a great text for questioning, inferring and self-reflection!
Nikolai is a boy who wants to know how he can be a good person. He asks three questions that he believes will lead him to an answer:

  • When is the best time to do things?
  • Who is the most important one?
  • What is the right thing to do?

Nickolai seeks advice from a heron, a monkey and a dog- they each give him different answers that do not satisfy him, so Nickolai visits an old wise turtle, Leo, in search of the truth.

Suddenly, they are interrupted by a storm that puts a panda and her cub in danger. As Nickolai responds to them, his actions end up providing the answers to his questions.
As Leo explains,
"Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. For these, my dear boy, are the answers to what is most important in this world."
In showing compassion for another living thing in its time of need, Nickolai proves he is already a good person!

The Three Questions is a beautiful book that values the gift of "now", living in the moment. It helps you to realize that the most important thing in life is to live it, in the present.

I plan to ask my students the three questions before reading it to them, and then compare their responses to the characters in the book. I'll also ask them to infer what kind of characters the heron, monkey and dog are based on the responses they give Nickolai.  We'll probably read it over two days and then reread it again for further discussion and discoveries.

Personally, I felt different after reading this book. I was definitely more grateful and content. It made me think. That's the kind of effect an amazing book can have on you, and that's the kind of experience I want my students to have. I don't think that the deeper message of compassion will be lost of them just because they are first graders! Not for a minute. Quite the opposite. If you, too, want to create a memorable reading experience with your students, share this book with them!

If you'd like more suggestions for great texts for language arts, hop on over to Collaboration Cuties!
Happy Sunday,
Signature photo ScreenShot2013-04-26at54143PM.png


  1. Karli,
    This sounds like a wonderful story and definitely very thought provoking. I love the idea of using it to teach questioning and inferring- I'm always looking for new books to teach both of those strategies, so thanks so much for sharing!
    Aylin :)
    Learning to the Core

  2. Super book for questioning and inferring! I had forgotten about this one. Thanks for sharing.
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  3. Oh wow! This sounds like an amazing book! I will definitely have to check it out! I'm so glad you linked it up! I love thought provoking books!
    Have a great week!

  4. I love this book! I wrote about it in my recent post about mentor texts, as well! I'm going to try asking the three questions before reading this book with my students...I've never done that before and it sounds like a fun, new idea! Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Meg! I'll be checking out your post :)


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