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InQuIRE—Helpful Handout

In General

A decent InQuIRE will be completely filled out with a proper summary, at least one question for each category, thoughtful answers for the questions (in complete sentences where appropriate), and at least one word listed and defined in the “Definitions” section.

A very good to excellent InQuIRE will be completely filled out with a proper summary, at least TWO questions for each category, thoughtful answers for all the questions (in complete sentences where appropriate), and at least two words listed and defined in the “Definitions” section.


Summary of Chapter/Excerpt

In this section, you should write a short summary of the text you read.  If the text is 4 or less pages, then your summary doesn’t need to be more than a short paragraph (about 4-6 sentences).  If your text is more than 4 pages, you should summarize what you’ve read in two short paragraphs (about 8-12 sentences).

A summary, because it is so short, cannot include every single detail from the text.  However, a good summary should include all the most important information in the proper order.  Please see the attached InQuIRE sample for a good example of a summary.


Text explicit (“right there”) questions

Text explicit means that the text you’re reading actually says the answer to the question.  It’s an answer you can actually point to in the text and say, “Hey, look!  It’s right there!”

Text explicit/“right there” questions tend to be the easiest kind of question to answer because you don’t really have to think.  You just need to remember what you’ve read (recall) or go back to the story and find it.

Answers to text explicit/“right there” questions are often one word or a short phrase.



from Mango Street 

Q:  Who is the narrator of this story?

Q:  In which chapter does Esperanza get kissed by an older man?

A:  Esperanza

A:  “The First Job”

from There Are No Children Here

Q:  How many children does LaJoe have?

Q:  Where do Lafayette and Pharaoh live?

A:  eight

A:  the Henry Horner projects

Question stems for “right there” questions:

The following list includes words/phrases that are often used in “right there” questions.







How many…


Can you remember…



The “…” refers to what?


Text implicit (“read-between-the-lines”) questions

Text implicit means that you have to read between the lines of the text to come up with an answer.  This can mean using one or more clues in a text to think of a probably answer.  Text implicit/“read-between-the-lines” questions often have more than one possible answer, but the better answers can be justified with clues in the text.

Text implicit/“read-between-the-lines” questions can range from simple to hard, but all of them require you to think and understand the text.  Generally, the more clues you need to add up from the text, the more difficult the question.

Answers to text implicit/“read-between-the-lines” questions are often one or more sentences and usually include an explanation/justification of why that answer is the answer.



from Mango Street

Q:  How is the narrator portrayed in The House on Mango Street?  Pick no more than 5 words and explain your answer.

A:  Esperanza is portrayed as young, thoughtful, inquisitive, and often dissatisfied.  Clearly in the novel, Esperanza is young enough to still be in school, and she uses simple vocabulary most of the time which indicates that she’s a young person.  She’s both thoughtful and inquisitive because she loves to read and also always seems to be thinking.  We don’t just get her speaking voice in this novel, but we often get her internal voice which likes to make reflective comments about what she has witnessed or told us about.  Last, she’s not a very happy person, either with herself (like in the chapter where she complains about her name), where she lives, and even with the people who live around her on Mango Street.  This last part is interesting though, because when she finally leaves Mango Street at the end, she also seems dissatisfied with having to leave people behind. 

from There Are No Children Here

            Q:  Why doesn’t LaJoe leave the projects?  Find evidence in the book to explain.

            Q:  Why doesn’t Terrence clean up his act?  Justify your idea(s).

            Q:  What will happen to Lafayette and Pharaoh?  Explain why you think so.


Question stems for “read-between-the-lines” questions:

The following list includes words/phrases that are often used in “read-between-the-lines” questions.

What conclusion…

Distinguish between…

Find the evidence…

What is possible…

What alternative…


Who… Justify.

What… Justify.

When… Justify.

Where… Justify.

Why… Justify.

How… Justify.





Text significance (“interpret an element”) questions

Text significance questions ask you to look specifically at the way the author of a text has put it together.  These kinds of questions can look at very small things, like why an author used a particular word choice in a particular sentence (like why the author of “Popular Mechanics” chose not to give his characters names); to medium things, like figurative language an author used, a title choice (for a chapter or a whole text), or why an author chose to begin or end a text a certain way; to large things, like why an author ordered information in a text in a certain way or why a certain point of view was used.

Text significance/“interpret an element” questions tend to be very difficult and rarely have a single answer.  These questions take a lot of thinking.  Not only do you need to know what the element is (simile, foreshadowing, dialogue, symbolism, etc.), you also need to understand the text and understand the elements of the text as choices the author makes for a bigger purpose.  The “purpose” of an element is rarely “to make the text more exciting.”  Rather, interpreting an element involves understanding the text as a piece of art that communicates (or “means”) more than just what’s on the surface.

Answers to text significance/“interpret an element” questions are usually more than one sentence, and justifying your answers is very important.



from Mango Street

Q:  Why does the author tell the stories of Mango Street from Esperanza’s point of view?

from There Are No Children Here

Q:  Why does the author include a lot of historical and modern facts about the Henry Horner Homes between telling the story about Pharaoh and Lafayette?

Q:  Why does the author include LaJoe’s entire shopping list at the beginning of Chapter 15?

Q:  How does the author foreshadow what happens to Craig?

Q:  For what reasons does the author end the main part of the book with “As LaJoe walked toward the back to break up the fight, she smiled.  At least, she though, I still have both of them.  At least they’re still mine.  She never though it could be such a comfort to hear her sons arguing.”?


Question stems for “interpret an element” questions:

The following list includes words/phrases that are often used in “interpret an element” questions.

Why does the author…

Why doesn’t the author…

How does the author…

Why is…

Why aren’t…

For what reasons…


The following list includes literary elements that are often asked about in “interpret an element” questions.

figurative language (simile, metaphor, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, personification, etc.)


structural choices (not using quotes or not telling the audience who’s speaking, how the text is ordered, telling a story inside a story, etc.)







point of view




word choices


character names





Thematic connection (“universal statement”) questions

Thematic connection questions ask you to understand the text overall on a deep level.  For this kind of question you need to think about the text as a whole, adding up all the parts of it in your head.  There isn’t just one answer to a thematic connection question, and usually you will need to justify your answer.

Thematic connection/“universal statement” questions involve a good amount of thinking.  While one word answers are sometimes ok, it’s better to always explain your answer.

Keep in mind that themes are big ideas, usually one word big ideas.  A list of common themes appears below, but don’t feel tied to this list.  There are plenty more out there!



from Mango Street

Q:  What is the biggest theme in Mango Street?

from There Are No Children Here

Q:  What point is the author trying to make in telling us Lafayette’s and Pharaoh’s stories?

Q:  What are we supposed to understand about the theme of “poverty” in this book?


Question stems for “universal connection” questions:

The following list includes words/phrases that are often used in “universal connection” questions.

What is the theme…

What understanding of (this theme)…

What point…

Name (#) themes…

What major theme…

What minor theme…


The is a list of themes often found in literature.  (This list doesn’t name ALL the possible themes.)













Growing up








In this section, you should write down 1-5 words you encounter in your text that you don’t know at all or don’t really know the definition to.  Look up the words and write down the definition THAT MAKES SENSE IN THE CONTEXT OF THE STORY.