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

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.