Teaching Theme with Picture Books

Theme is such a tough concept for kids to understand.  I use picture books to help my students identify the different themes and then use evidence to prove they have chosen a theme that works for the book.  I just found a picture book that was a total HIT with my students!  The book is, Barnacle is Bored, by Jonathan Fenske.


This story is so cute!  Barnacle is so bored just hanging off the dock all day and night.  He is envious of a little fish that gets to do all these fun things…until he gets eaten by an eel!  Yikes!


We read the book aloud and then charted the different themes from the book.  My kids came up with a great list, including:

  • Be careful what you wish for.
  • Be grateful for what you have.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover.
  • Focus on the positives.
  • Things are not always what they seem.


Students then worked on creating their own theme poster with examples from the book.  This lesson was a huge hit (and the book is really popular in our classroom, too)!



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