Good questions for reading groups allow participants to share ideas and discuss themes, plots, characters and styles from various perspectives. The value of any particular question depends on the purpose of the reading group, the age of group participants and the book selection.
For a non-fiction selection, ask participants to explain whether they find the author's arguments valid or implausible. For fiction, ask the readers to discuss the relevance of a particular character to the plot. If the group focuses on a specific author, ask the readers to draw comparisons and note any surprising similarities or differences between themes or characters in other texts.
To encourage discussion for any genre, select a memorable description or quote from the text, and ask readers to comment on it. This provides an opportunity for everyone to contribute to the conversation while keeping the discussion focused on the text. It also allows participation regardless of whether everyone finished the reading.
Additional questions for any genre concern the readers' experiences with the book. For example, ask whether the readers felt engaged or bored and why they felt that way. Alternatively, ask readers whether the book broadened their perspectives or taught them something new. These generic questions create space for a wide range of responses that lead to more great questions.
Many recent book editions provide supplemental materials that include discussion questions designed specifically for reading groups. However, these materials serve as suggestions, not limitations, on what questions to ask.