The theme of a story is the message that you can apply to your own life. Often a book has multiple themes interwoven in the story. To find the theme of a book, movie, music, follow the steps below. 

STEP 1: Create a t-chartOn the left side, make a list of recurring topics. For example, in Finding Nemo, common topics in the story include love, trust, family, security, danger, obedience. 

STEP 2: Fill out the chartOn the right side of the chart, add supporting details of the theme or “prove it.” You can do this by going back to the story and recording what was done or said regarding the topic. For example, in Finding Nemo, Marlin risks being chased after sharks, deadly jellyfish, and more all to find Nemo.  Check out the “What’s the big idea?” graphic organizer to help organize each topic and evidence. 

STEP 3: Pick a topic. Now that you have a list of topics and supporting details, pick a topic and write a sentence about what the author believes about that topic. For example, if you choose Trust as your topic in your Finding Nemo example, you may write, “In Finding Nemo, the author believes that a person needs to learn how to trust themselves and others.” 

STEP 4: Find your theme. Take the sentence that you wrote in step three and cross out, “In Finding Nemo, the author believes that” and leave, “A person needs to learn how to trust themselves and others.” This is a theme. For other examples, check out this video. 

For infants and toddlers, consider choosing themes that mirror some of their struggles like sharing toys, learning to use the potty, or focusing on the things that an infant or toddler can do like jumping, bending, giggling, etc. Demonstrate (if possible) some of the actions that the characters take. For example, if it’s sharing a toy, share a toy with your toddler. For infants, if the book’s theme is the ability to do things like giggling, mimic a giggle and point to the book to show the parallel, then try to get your child to giggle and say, “you can giggle, too.” 

STEP 5: Compare & ContrastFind a song, movie, or game that is related to the theme of the book you are reading. Use the t-chart (in the tips above) to find the theme of the song. How are the themes the same? How are they different? 

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