Understanding the overall theme of a body of work takes time and is not always an easy experience.

The overall message a story puts forth is referred to as the theme. All stories have one or multiple themes. This can give a solid understanding of how the characters interact and how their decisions influence their individual traits. Writers will often elude to the theme repeated times throughout the body of the story. Major themes are those messages that are given off multiple times throughout the story. There can also be minor themes that are only a select time in the story.

When you are working on this and focusing on determining the theme of any passage start by understanding the setting of the story and the things that were taking place at the time in history. If it is a fictional story focus on character’s mindset as well. That can often lead you in the right direction. The next move is to relate to the protagonist of the story, what do you think their goal is? Is there any level of conflict or situations that would lead you to make other decisions? The last step is to look at the resolution of the story. Who wins and who loses? This is series of practical and skill building worksheets that can be used in coordination with bodies of work that you are exploring. You will be provided with short and extended reading passages that will require you to outline and breakdown the summary of the work. We provide a number of literature language graphic organizers to use with literature that you are discovering with your classes. We will also explore portions of well known works of literature for you to practice these skills with. There are fifteen worksheets contained in this series to help you build upon your recognition skills.

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Printable Identifying the Theme of a Story Worksheets

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Main Concepts

What is the main point of the story? Cite evidence from the text that would support your argument.

Mary and Ruth

In this assignment, you will read a short story and determine the theme.

Title of Book

Find three quotes that illustrate the major thoughts and concepts of the story.

What Do They Have in Common?

We will work on relating literature titles that we have read in the past to topics and then expand upon them. Follow the example.

Identification Activity

You will read the story of Harry. He is new to a school and was a tall muscular kid. His nature did not fit his physical features. See where it goes and explain what you are seeing.

Take a Position Worksheet

You will choose from the topics: family, love, loss, hope, and freedom. You will take a position on that topic and write a journal entry on it.

Identify the Theme

Read the story. Breakdown what you read and then see how a position is formed and the story revolves around it.

Your Story

You are looking for the message that an author wants to convey through the story.

The Fox and the Chickens

The story of six chickens that live on the farm and feared the fox.

Recurring Themes

A recurring theme is a message that occurs in more than one literary work. We will explore this and show you how to find this in what you are reading.

How is it Developed?

Read the assigned text. Fill out the graphic organizer below to help you understand how it is developed through each of the identified story elements.

What's the Theme?

Read the story and show how this message is developed over the course of the story.

Universal Themes

A universal theme is a concept that everyone can relate to. Because it has to do with what it means to be human, it normally transcends gender, culture, and geographical differences.

Expressing Theme

Some of the lines below are single-sentence summaries of stories. Some are expression of theme. Can you tell the difference?

Icarus and Daedalus

Read the story. Identify the theme. Then say what happens in the story that tells you this. Remember, they take a position on a topic.