Even though authors write books about a variety of topics, the big ideas, or themes, are often similar. Once you’ve thought about the theme of a story, it is easier to get ideas about the author’s message. What is he or she trying to tell readers about that big idea? Here are some examples of common themes and possible messages to help you get started.


  • Friendships are an important part of life.
  • True friends are people who you can count on when things get tough.
  • Friendship can be found in unexpected places.

Equality & Acceptance

  • Everyone should be treated fairly.
  • Respect others’ differences or beliefs.
  • Being different isn’t bad.

Tips for determining the author’s message

  • This is a hard task! Break it down into three steps: First, make sure you understand what happened in the book. Then, figure out what big idea the book is about. Finally, figure out what the author might be trying to tell you about that big idea. That’s the author’s message!
  • The author’s message is similar to a lesson. After reading a book, have your student think about what his/her parents or teacher would tell the main character. That might lead to the author’s message!
  • Instead of trying to think about the entire book, turn to one very important part of the story. Help your student consider, “What does the author want readers to learn from this part?” Once you have your idea, think about whether or not it could apply to the entire book.