Mentor Texts for Teaching Theme

Mentor Text for Teaching Theme

Theme is such an interesting and often challenging skill to teach! There are a lot of factors to consider, and since every student has their own unique point of view, we don’t always agree.

If you are working on teaching Theme, you’re going to want some really great mentor texts to use. Lucky for you, I’ve put together a list of my very favorite read aloud to use when teaching theme. Hope you enjoy!

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1. A Bad Case of Stripes

This book is all about being comfortable with who you are! Camilla Cream wakes up on the first day of school with a bad case of stripes. All Camilla can think about is what everyone will think! Although it definitely gets worse before it gets better, Camilla ends up learning a valuable lesson about the importance of being true to yourself.

2. Salt in His Shoes

A little boy who is about to give up on his dream of being a basketball player is taught a valuable lesson about the importance of patient, determination, and hard work!

Something that makes this book doubly fun is the fact that the authors’ are Michael Jordan’s mother and sister!

3. The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town

Dirk Yeller, a dangerous outlaw, is known for causing all kinds of trouble! He can’t stop itchin’ and twitchin’ and jumpin’ and rattlin’! When he comes into town one day, everyone is scared of him. Everyone, that is, except one small boy who knows just how to help Dirk. This story delivers an important message about the power of a good book and a friend!

4. The Paper Bag Princess

A classic by Robert Munsch! Princess Elizabeth is all set to marry Prince Ronald, who she thinks is just perfect! When a dragon shows up, attacks the castle, and kidnaps Ronald, she has to use all of her courage and smarts to save him, all while wearing a paper bag. In the end, Prince Elizabeth proves herself to be more than just a princess, and Prince Ronald shows his true color, which are not as favorable!

5. The Giving Tree

This popular book has been around for a long time, and with good reason. It will definitely tug at your students’ heartstrings (and yours, too!), and get them thinking about love, generosity and the power of giving.

6. The Hundred Dresses

This story centers around Wanda Petronski, a young schoolgirl who is bullied for wearing the same faded dress every day. She claims she has 100 beautiful dresses at home, but no one believes her. When Wanda is pulled out of school suddenly one day all of the kids feel awful, but it’s too late. A classmate, Maddie, reflects on her own role as a bystander and what she wishes she would have done differently..

7. These Hands

Little Joseph knows his grandpa can do just about anything! He plays the piano, throws a mean curveball, AND can tie a triple bowline knot in just 3 seconds!  What he can’t do is bake bread at the Wonder Bread factory in the 1950s and 1960s- the bosses say white people won’t want to eat bread that was made by African American hands. Joeseph learns how, by joining their hands together, people can fight this discrimination.

8. Plant a Kiss


9. Big Al

Big Al is a big, scary-looking fish, which means no one wants to be his friend. In truth, he is one of the friendliest fish in the ocean! Big Al tries everything he can think of to get the smaller fish to give him a chance, but it never works out. He finally gets a chance to prove his kindness one day when the little fish get in trouble and Big Al is the only one who can help.

10. Aesop’s Fables

There is a reason that these fables have been around for centuries- they are that good! And they are excellent for teaching theme! This collection includes the Lion and the Mouse, the Tortoise and the Hare, and many more!


If you are looking for even more resources for teaching Theme, check this one out:

4th and 5th Grades Theme: Stories Print and Digital Center

4th and 5th Grade Themes in Stories Reading Center

Or maybe what you need is a complete unit that includes both print and digital formats? This one comes with passages, posters, task cards, and handouts that your kids will enjoy!

4th and 5th Grades Theme

Theme for 4th - 5th Grades in Print and Digital


Interested in even more great ideas for teaching Theme? Check out these posts:


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