Discussing what you read

Learning focus

To share your thoughts and feelings about a book and give reasons for your opinions.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos to help you discuss what you read

  • three activities, plus an extra challenge


When you discuss a book, you say what you think about it. You also listen to what other people think about the book.

You share your ideas and opinions, along with reasons to back up what you’ve said.

Watch this video to hear actress and comedian Nina Wadia discussing one of her favourite books:
Lizzy Zipmouth by Jacqueline Wilson.

Nina describes the effect the book had on her (the feelings or emotions it made her have).

Listen to Nina Wadia discussing 'Lizzie Zipmouth' by Jacqueline Wilson.

In a discussion, you might talk about:

  • the characters in the book (the people in the story)
  • the effect the book has on the reader

You might also talk about the themes of the book.
A theme is a big idea that shapes a story. It sums up what the story is all about.

Watch this video, in which teacher Miss Williams tells you more about themes and gives you some examples. Pay close attention and join in with the activities as you watch.

What is a theme? Watch this Teacher Talk for help with discussing what a book means to you.

Top Tip!

  • When you are describing the themes of a story, there are no exact right or wrong answers. It's a matter of opinion, as long as you can give reasons to back up what you say.

  • A story may have lots of themes, not just one.


You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

Click on the image on the right and read the extract from Tower of Terror.

When you have read the extract, think about this question:

What do you think about the characters?

Write a couple of lines giving your opinion about each character. Describe the character and give your reasons for thinking the way you do.

For example:

Kez is very negative. I think this because he always believes that things are going to go wrong. For example, that Lola’s mum’s car won't be able to make it through the snow to meet them.

Tower of Terror

Top tip!

Use these sentence starters to help you.

  • Lola / JJ / Kez is...
  • My reasons for thinking this are...
  • I think this because…
  • The character I like the most is ... because...
  • The character I'm not so keen on is ... because...

Activity 2

Two of the themes in Tower of Terror are friendship and loneliness.

Hidden in the extract are words that hint at these themes. For some examples, look at the table below.

Copy out the table and add in any more words you spot that hint at these two themes.

ThemeWords that hint at the theme
Friendship'grinned', 'we'll be OK if we stick together', 'warm'
Loneliness'yawning empty hole', 'Lonely Wolf Boy', 'cold, cold lanes'

You can check your answers using this answer sheet.

Activity 3

In her video clip about Lizzy Zipmouth, Nina Wadia describes the effect the book had on her. She explains how the story made her feel and gives reasons to back up what she says.

How did reading the extract from Tower of Terror make you feel?

Write a short paragraph describing the effect it had on you.

Top tip!

You could use these sentence starters to help you:

  • I would describe the extract as...
  • My reasons for this are...
  • The story made me feel ... because...


Try discussing your opinions about another book or extract you've read with a friend or a family member.

You could talk about the characters, themes and the effect the book had on you.

If you can't think of a book, there are lots of recommendations and extracts to read in the Bitesize Daily Book Club!

Where next?

In this lesson you have learned how to share your thoughts and feelings about a book and to give reasons for your opinions.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you with your speaking and listening skills.

Take a look at Debating to learn more!

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