The Three Questions: An Introduction to Service


Discussion of the book The Three Questions guides youth to be aware of people and needs around them and the importance of service as a response to the needs of others.

Author: Urban EdVenture Faculty at Westminster


Print25 minutes

The learners will:

  • identify the benefits to self and others of empathy and awareness of the needs of others.
  • define and give examples of service.

Read aloud copy of The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth 


Service, agency, allegory, impact, being present


Muth, Jon J. (2002). The Three Questions (Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy). Scholastic, Inc.


  1. Post the three questions that are the center of this story before reading the book. Tell the listeners that you will ask them to reflect on the questions and answer them after the reading. They are: (1) Who is the most important person; (2) What is the most important thing to do; and, (3) When is the time to do it?

  2. Ask them to think through how they would answer each of these questions and write some thoughts for two minutes.

  3. Read aloud the story, The Three Questions. Stop halfway to discuss the answers to the three questions given by the story‚Äôs characters. 

  4. After reading, discuss the story and the three questions and answers. 

    (1) The most important person is the one you are with and for whom you can do something; (2) The most important thing to do is what is needed; and, (3) The right time to do something is when it is needed.

  5. Ask listeners to quietly identify an example from their own life that matches the ideas of service related to the three questions. Follow with asking for volunteers to share their examples.