How do I find the theme in a piece of literature?


What is the message or moral the author is trying to convey? What life lesson can you learn from this story?

The author will not tell you what the theme is:

  • You have to infer
  • What is the central conflict?
  • What has the main character done wrong? What lesson can be learned from that conflict or mistake?


  • The main idea (what the story is about)
  • One word
  • About a specific character(s)

Identifying the Theme in Literature

Watch the video below for more clarification on identifying a theme statement!
Identifying the Theme in Literature

How to write a Theme statement

  1. DO NOT USE PERSONAL PRONOUNS (specifically "you")
  2. Must be a complete statement with a subject and verb
  3. Must apply to the ENTIRE story
  4. No cliche statements (ex. never give up, don't judge a book by it's cover, the grass is always greener on the other side)
  5. No character names included

Mr. Peabody's Apples

Watch the following reading of the book Mr. Peabody's Apples. As you are listening to the book, think about the the main problem (central conflict) and how it can be solved. What could someone learn from that problem/solution. Remember, it needs to be something you could apply to life and not just this book.

Digital Story