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Reading comprehension

Identifying themes and conventions

Explainer Video

Tutor: Kat


Identifying themes and conventions

​​In a nutshell

A theme is the primary idea or message that readers are supposed to get out of a text. Conventions are the methods the writer uses to convey these ideas and themes. In this summary, you'll learn about the different themes and conventions in writing.


A theme is a recurring idea or image in any work. In stories, a theme is a message which a writer is trying to show the reader. The theme of a text is not what the text is about or what happens. Writers sometimes have views or opinions about concepts like love, religion, evil or coming of age, and they use their writing to explore such themes and show readers what they think about these ideas. 





The Boy Who Cried Wolf 

A shepherd boy repeatedly tricks the nearby villagers into responding to his pleas for help by lying about an approaching wolf.
When the wolf finally arrives, nobody responds to his cries for help, because they think he's lying, and the wolf eats his sheep.

Lies and Truth 

A Totally Made Up Story About A Football Trio

A team of three football players had never won a football match before because each player would try to score without passing to his teammate.
One day the players decided they would pass to each other instead of dribbling and they scored a lot of goals and won the match.

Selfishness and Teamwork 

Tip: A story can contain many different themes at once.


Conventions are the features which are expected in certain genres of writing, such as fairy tales, mystery stories, science fiction and ghost stories. These different conventions, characteristics and rules make each genre recognisable.




Fairy tale

  • Fairy tales usually start with 'Once upon a time'.
  • Fairy tales are usually a battle between good and evil.

Love story / Romance

  • Love stories are usually about a couple who aren't together at the beginning of the story, but they fall in love eventually.
  • Love stories have happy endings.

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

Can a story have more than one theme?

What are conventions?

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