Basic story themes–the story’s lesson or message–are not original, only the variations on themes are.
Here are some common story themes:
- Honesty can triumph over dishonesty
- Hard work and cleverness lead to success
- Through wit and courage, the small and weak can overcome the big and bad
- It is best to be yourself
- Beauty is only skin deep
- Determination and persistence lead to success
To uncover a story’s theme ask questions like the following:
- What’s the point of this story?
- Why do you suppose the author wanted to write this particular story? What is he/she trying to say to us? (Or if the story has been written by a student: Why did you write this particular story? What do you want to say to readers through this story?)
Many times an author isn’t aware of a story’s theme until the story has been written. Other times, an author may start writing a story with a particular theme in mind and develop the characters and plot of the story to illustrate the theme. Fables usually begin this way–with the moral clearly in mind.
A teaching suggestion: Ask students to collect themes from the stories they read and make a chart of them to display in the classroom. Students can refer to the chart as they are drafting new stories.
From the Writing Curriculum Files of Children’s Author, Suzanne Williams www.suzanne-williams.com