Girl with backpack on with finger on her cheek as if thinking
Some people teach theme and main idea separately, which is totally fine. However, I like to teach them together. I like my students to be able to see that the main idea can be very simple and tells what the story or passage was about on a surface level. A theme, on the other hand, tells a lesson or message that the character or reader makes. 
In this post, you’ll find four of my favorite books that have a great theme and students can easily tell the main idea of after reading. 

If you are interested in snagging any of these books, click the picture to find it on Amazon. 
Mentor Text with text "Enemy Pie" and Graphic Organizer with text "Theme"

Enemy Pie

Enemy Pie is a classic book that I believe every student should have read to them at some point! When the main character has a new enemy, his dad volunteers to help him make a pie that is PERFECT for an enemy. But there’s a catch. You have to find a way to trick your enemy into actually eating the pie. This book is full of great themes for your students to discover, learn from, and support with evidence from the text!

Mentor Text with text "Those Shoes" and Graphic Organizer with text "Theme"

Those Shoes

Have you ever wanted something that “everyone else” had. Whether is was the pink Razr phone when you were in high school or the latest iPhone, everyone has drooled over something that everyone else seems to have and you don’t! In this book, Jeremy desperately wants “those shoes”. Everyone has them, but his grandma says they are too expensive. This heartwarming story shares what happens once he finally gets his hands on a pair!
Mentor Text with text "The Little House" and Graphic Organizer with text "Theme"

The Little House

Ooooh, this book is one of my all-time favorites. It is a great story with multiple themes and is perfect for demonstrating that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side! Year after year, my students and I love using this book for a close read.
Mentor Text with text "Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun" and Graphic Organizer with text "Theme"

Spaghetti in a Hotdog Bun

First of all, how can you read this title and NOT want to read the book?! This book is perfect for teaching your students to be who they are–no matter how crazy, silly, unusual, or different that may be!

Click here for your FREE Mentor Text Cheat Sheet!

Do you love mentor texts as much as I do? Have trouble organizing them all?

Do you want to use mentor texts but you don’t know where to start?

I have a FREE Mentor Text Cheat Sheet for you! In this Google Sheet, you’ll find MY list of Mentor Texts and the reading skills that I use them to teach. You can add your own books, sort by author or reading skills, find shortcuts to my blog posts, AND

>>>my favorite feature<<<
>>>cue the drum roll, please<<<

Choose from a dropdown menu to show where you can find the book. For example, I use a boatload of mentor texts in my reading instruction. I can’t afford to buy them all. I find some in our school library, the local library, borrow from my teacher friends, and SOME of them, I do own!

Using the dropdown menu, you can easily remind yourself where you can find your mentor text when you need it! Click the image above OR click here to grab it.