Key Questions

Key Questions for Critical Literacy

Textual Purposes

  • What is this text about? How do we know?
  • Who would be most likely to read this text and why?
  • Why are we reading this text?
  • What does the author of this text want us to know?

Textual Structures and Features

  • What are the structures and features of this text?
  • What genre does this text belong to?
  • What do the images suggest?
  • What do the words suggest?
  • What kind of language is used in the text?

Construction of Characters

  • How are children, teenagers, young adults, and adults constructed in this text?
  • Why has the author constructed the characters in this way?

Power and Interest

  • In whose interest is this text?
  • Who benefits from this text?
  • Is the text fair?
  • What knowledge does the reader need to bring to this text in order to understand it?
  • Which positions, voices, and interests are at play in this text?
  • How is the reader positioned in relation to the author of this text?
  • How does the text depict age, gender, cultural groups?
  • Whose views are excluded or privileged in the text?
  • Who is allowed to speak? Who is quoted?
  • Why is the text written in the way it is?

Gaps and Silences

  • Are there gaps and silences in the text?
  • Who is missing from the text?
  • What has been left out of the text?
  • What questions about itself does the text not raise?
  • Whose View? Whose Reality?
  • What views of the world is the text presenting?
  • What kinds of social realities does the text portray?
  • How does the text construct a version of reality?
  • What is real in the text?
  • How would the text be different if it were told in another time, place, or culture?

Interrogating the Author

  • What kind of person, and with what interests and values, authored the text?
  • What view of the world and values does the author assume the reader holds? How do we know?

Multiple Meanings

  • What different interpretations of the text are possible?
  • How do contextual factors influence how the text is interpreted?
  • How does the text mean?
  • How else could the text have been written?
  • How does the text rely on intertextuality to create its meaning?

(Taken from:

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