Teaching Author's Purpose and Theme Using Hatchet

After your students have read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, you can work with them on two important reading skills: theme and author's purpose.  It also has keywords to click on to offer more strategies or questions to help you guide students thinking about their reading and the evidence they can find in text of how the author's chooses his words to convey meaning to the reader.  Students are asked to find evidence in the text that support the theme and/or purpose they believe the author is trying to convey. It sets the class up to have an intellectual conversation about "how" the author chooses his words to develop connections for the reader to understand his intent in writing the novel.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 6 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a...
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
GLE 0601.1.2
Employ a variety of strategies and resources to determine the definition, pronunciation, and usage of words and phrases.
GLE 0601.8.5
Identify and analyze common literary terms (e.g., personification, conflict, theme).
SPI 0601.1.15
Use context clues and prior knowledge of roots and affixes to determine the meaning of multi-meaning words.
SPI 0601.1.16
Use context clues and prior knowledge of roots and affixes to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words.
SPI 0601.1.17
Use dictionaries, thesauruses, electronic sources, and glossaries as aids in determining the meaning of unfamiliar words.
SPI 0601.1.20
Use knowledge of root words, affixes, syllabication, and/or spelling patterns as aids in determining meaning within context.
SPI 0601.5.5
Specify a logical word choice to complete an analogy using synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, categories, subcategories, whole/part, and functions.
SPI 0601.8.7
Analyze figurative language (i.e., hyperbole, simile, metaphor, personification,) within context.
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on 6th grade-level text by choosing flexibly from a range of...
When reading, listening, writing, and speaking, explain the function of figurative language, word relationships, and connotation/denotation and use them ...
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Learning objectives: 

Hatchet: Teaching Author's Purpose:

In a class discussion, ask students why authors write books. Most authors write books to either entertain, persuade, or inform. Most fiction books are written to entertain. Ask students why they believe Gary Paulsen wrote Hatchet. His purpose for writing the book was to provide 


Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Differentiation suggestions: 

Project Recommendation:

To have fun with these elementary reading skills, assign students a project about Hatchet's themes and the author's purpose you discussed. Students can:

Create a poster or display about the theme of survival, Brian's inner struggle, or the author's purpose to entertain. The poster or display should show the theme or author's purpose the student chose in a creative way with specific details or events from Hatchet.

Helpful Hints

Need to have the novel Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.