Warm Up:
What is theme?
How do you find it?
Understanding Theme
 The
theme of a story is its central
message, a discovery of truth about life
and the human experience.
 Theme is not a summary of the plot or a
statement of the topic.
 Theme is a full statement, not just one
 Theme is usually not stated directly. It is
inferred or discovered through reading.
Finding Theme
 How
has the main character changed or
what has he/she learned over the course
of the story?
 What plot events are most important?
 What is the main conflict? How is it
Examples of Theme
Friends are not always trustworthy.
Appearances can be deceiving.
Happiness is only real when shared.
Love, when taken to extremes, can be either
positive or negative.
In sports, winning is not the only thing that
Greed causes problems that leave us with less
than we had.
Be happy with what you have; don’t
compare yourself to others.
Topic, Plot Summary, or
family travels to
Alabama and
faces hardships
along the way.
 Prejudice.
 Facing your fears is
the only way to
overcome them.
 Plot
 Topic
 Theme
Topic, Plot Summary, or
 Love
 Topic
 Plot
boy and girl fall
in love even
though their
parents are
 Unresolved conflict
leads to disaster.
 Theme
The Oak and the Reeds
A very large oak was uprooted by the
wind and thrown across a stream. It fell
among some reeds, which it thus
addressed: “I wonder how you, who are so
light and weak, are not entirely crushed by
these strong winds.”
They replied, “You fight and contend
with the win, and consequently you are
destroyed; while we on the contrary bend
before the least breath of air, and therefore
remain unbroken, and escape.”
The Oak and the Reeds
 Topic?
 Theme?
 Plot
Resistance, Strength
vs. Weakness
An oak tree is
surprised the weeds
aren’t hurt by the
wind like him.
Be flexible to
Theme Activity
Read the excerpt from Touching Spirit Bear
While reading, complete a double entry journal:
On one side, list important quotes or events from the text.
On the other, list possible themes related to those
For full credit there should be at least ten original
On the back, write a summary (5+ sentences) of the
chapters read.
Answer the following ERQ question:
Analyze the theme of Touching Spirit Bear. Justify your
answer by providing at least TWO supporting details from
the text. Explain how these details support your analysis of
the theme.
Theme in Touching Spirit Bear
Possible Themes
Lit Circle Theme Journal
Fold three pieces of paper in half hamburger style and
staple the folded edge to form a journal.
On each of the first four sets of pages, label the top
with the chapters due each week.
For each of the four sets of pages, label one sides
“Quotes/Specific Evidence” and the other side
“Possible Themes”.
For each week of reading, include FIVE NOTEWORTHY
quotes/specific evidence and determine a possible
theme for each. Also in this section, explain how the
evidence shows your possible theme.
If you come in and you have not completed the
section of the journal, you will work independently and
not participate in the more active theme activities.
Jessica Clark
Week 1: April 9
Chapters 1-?
Possible Themes
1. BEARSTONE: “He didn’t know he was
climbing toward a treasure and a turning
point. He wanted only to reach that piece
of desert in the sky.”
1. BEARSTONE: Even when we are running away, life
can take us where we’re supposed to be. Cloyd is
trying to run away from the farm, but he finds the
bearstone that changes his whole life.
drop the stick and run too, but I went on
digging roots because they were needed in the
2. ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS: We don’t always get
to do what we want because duty calls. In this
passage, Karana doesn’t go see the boat because
she has to finish her chores.
3. SACAJAWEA: “Deer do not attack a
mountain lion, even though they outnumber it.”
3. SACAJAWEA: If you are weak, do not attack
something/someone stronger than you, even if you
have back up. Sacajawea was not rescued
because her people were weaker than the tribe that
kidnapped her.
4. HATCHET: “It was as if the water were more
than water, as if the water had become all of
life, and he could not stop.”
5. BRIAN’S WINTER: “He had learned this:
Nothing that lived, nothing that walked or
crawled or flew or swam or slithered or oozed –
nothing, not one thing on God’s earth wanted
to die.”
6. CALL OF THE WILD: “His eyes turned
bloodshot, and he was metamorphosed
(changed) into a raging fiend.”
4. HATCHET: When you lose everything, even simple
things become precious. Because Brian had nothing,
the water was more important than ever.
5. BRIAN’S WINTER: Everything in nature will fight to
survive. Brian learns this when he has to hunt to
6. CALL OF THE WILD: Bad situations can change us
towards evil. Because Buck was being abused, he
was filled with hate and wrath.
Literature Circle Theme Strips
Discuss quotes and themes from Theme Journal. Each
person should explain at least three.
Debate these themes and, together, decide on the
best theme for the first quarter of your survival novel.
Discuss the theme with Ms. Clark; once your theme is
approved, gather art supplies to create theme strip.
Write this theme statement on a sentence strip.
Decorate the theme strip with symbols or illustrations
that support this theme in the story.
On the back, give two pieces of evidence from the
text to support this theme.
Include your group’s names and the survival novel
your group is reading.
Week 2: April 16
Chapters # - #
EVIDENCE for each theme;
Find TWO THEMES based on the
list of topics below:
1. Quote for Theme #1
1. Quote #1
2. Quote #2
2. Quote for Theme #2
1. Quote #1
2. Quote #2
Growing Up
1. Theme:
2. Theme:
Literature Circle Theme Songs
Beauty and the Beast
Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
Just a little change
Small to say the least
Both a little scared
Neither one prepared
Beauty and the Beast
Lion King – Circle of Life
Some say eat or be eaten
Some say live and let live
But all are agreed as they join
the stampede
You should never take more
than you give
In the circle of life
It's the wheel of fortune
It's the leap of faith
It's the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life
Literature Circle Theme Songs
 Song
Samples – Call of the Wild
It’s the call of the wild, it’s the thrill of the
bite. (to Eye of the Tiger)
“Don’t stop surviving, just keep on thriving.”
(to Don’t Stop Believing)
“Buck he had a ruff, ruff life.” (to Mary Had
a Little Lamb)
“I’m gonna persevere, gonna stand up for
who I love.” (to Thrift Shop)
Literature Circle Theme Songs
 Write
a “theme song” for your novel based on this
The chorus should be the theme
statement/explanation itself; work on this portion
There should be two verses, each based on a
different quote or event from the novel that supports
the theme you have chosen.
Make it easier by setting it to a simple song that you
are already familiar with (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,
Literature Circle Theme Song
 Group
 Melody:
 Theme Statement:
 Verse:
shows evidence of theme in story
 Chorus: states/explains theme statement
 Verse: shows evidence of theme in story
Practice ERQ
 Using
supporting details and examples from the
story, analyze the theme of “To Build a Fire”.
 What must you do to score a 4?
Answer the question by correctly stating a theme of
the story
Prove your answer by using two quotes that truly
show this theme
Explain clearly by clarifying how each quote
supports your answer
The theme of “To Build a Fire” is never travel
alone. To begin with, in the passage Tom Vincent
thinks, “If only he had a comrade whose feet were
not freezing, he thought, only such a comrade to
start the fire that could save him!” This quote shows
the theme as Tom himself realizes that if he wasn’t
traveling alone, breaking this rule of the north, he
would be saved. Another example that shows the
theme is when the text states that, “his fingers
were so numb that he could not bend them.” This
shows how impossible it is to start a fire when one is
already wet and freezing. If Tom Vincent had a
companion, someone else could have lit the
match and he could have kept his mittens on.
Literature Circle Theme
Journal – DUE MAY 1, 2013
 For
each of the four weeks of reading, there
should be: (100 points for each week)
 Between two and five possible themes
 Supporting quotes for each of theme
 On
the last page, answer the ERQ question:
Using supporting details and examples from
your survival novel, analyze the theme of the
story. (100 points)
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