Reading Strategies: Theme ~ A Serravallo Book Review

+++Hi! I’m joining up with a few of my favorite teacher bloggers for a book study of Jennifer Serravallo’s Reading Strategies Book. Join us as we focus in on a few of our favorite reading strategies.

+++I will be sharing my thoughts and takeaways from Goal 7 – Theme & Ideas.  If you would like to read about the first five goals, check them out here:
Goal 1 – Supporting Pre-Emergent and Emergent Readers
Goal 2 – Teaching Reading Engagement
Goal 3 – Supporting Print Work
Goal 4 – Teaching Fluency
Goal 5 – Understanding Plot and Setting
Goal 6 – Thinking About Characters

 Reading Strategies Goal 7

+++Goal 7 is about supporting comprehension in fiction using themes and ideas. Themes are the underlying ideas or morals that give a story meaning. Themes are usually inferred and make the reader feel something (anger, joy, fear, guilt). Serravallo suggests choosing this goal for a student once they have demonstrated the ability to understand plot, setting, character, and vocabulary with some consistency. Themes can be introduced when they are ready to do more deep thinking about the story. To help students determine theme in my classroom I use this FREEBIE:


Focus Strategy 1Notice a Pattern and Give Advice (7.1)
+++With this strategy, readers are using what they know to form an inference. They look for patterns a character is repeating. Then think, “Should that character be doing that?” And, give advice to that character.

Serravello offers the following prompts to get ideas flowing:
~ Start with, “You should ______.”
~ What’s the pattern here?
~ What would you tell the character?

+++For additional practice, I use these inference practice pages in my classroom :

Focus Strategy 2

Book-to-Book Connections (7.11)
+++This strategy is as straight forward as it sounds. It requires students to make connections from one book to another. Although the idea itself seems simple, it’s extremely helpful to have some tools to help facilitate these connections. The Reading Strategies Book provides the following anchor chart suggestion.

+++I like to create the anchor chart as a whole class, and continue comparing texts with a page from this CCSS Reading Resource:


Focus Strategy 3“Aha Moment” (7.21)
+++With this strategy, students look for a passage where the character reflects. Then ask, “What is the message from this passage? How does it relate to the theme?”
+++These character reflections are a result of special time when the author lets us into the characters mind and are usually found near the end of a story. Such moments provide readers with extra help determining what one of the lessons might be.
+++I like to think of this as looking for the “Wow” moment. The moment a character has says, “Wow,…..” and comes to a conclusion. Even young children can understand theme when it’s put into that context.

+++Our study takes a look at just a few of Serravallo’s strategies. Her book offers so much more! I encourage you to check it out for yourself. If you’d like your own copy just click on the picture below:

(This is an affiliate link, but I only suggest products I use myself. I earn a small percentage each time someone uses one of my links, which helps to support the blog. )

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