Detective Text Analysis: Do You Accept Your Case?

Contributor: Jennifer Blanchard. Lesson ID: 13484

Do you know how detectives use clues to solve cases or mysteries? Readers do the same thing when reading a text! How so? Complete this lesson to find out!


Comprehension, English / Language Arts

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

  • What does a detective need to do in order to solve a case?

Think about that while you watch this fun video about a kid detective!

The CASE of the BROKEN VASE! An EvanTubeHD Detective Story from EvanTubeHD:

  • What does THAT have to do with reading?

Well, keep reading to find out!

  • What did Evan need to do in the video to solve his case?

He used clues, or evidence, to solve the mystery just like a detective.

Detectives need to look for clues to figure out mysteries or to solve crimes. They have to be very observant and notice every single thing that happens.

kid detectives

Readers need to act as detectives to analyze (or think more deeply) about a text to understand it more fully.

As you read, you need to pay attention to certain elements -- or clues -- and determine how they are important to the text.

A successful reading detective goes beyond just the words that are written to discover everything the author wants you to understand.

  • What are those important elements or clues in a text?

They are:

  1. word choice
  2. author's craft
  3. tone
  4. organization
  5. theme

Let's take a look at each element and what it means.

To help them make more sense, let's think of them in terms of a birthday party before we think of them in a text.

Word Choice

Word choice is simply the words that the author chooses to use.

bday cupcakes

Birthday Party Example:

Sarah is having a formal party, so her invitation might say, "The honor of your presence is requested" or "You are cordially invited to attend."

Mike is having a casual birthday party for family members, so the words on his invitation might say "RSVP to Grandma" or "It's party time!"

Author's Craft

Author's craft simply means that everything the author includes has a purpose or is there for a reason.

green party decorations

Birthday Party Example:

The party planner chooses decorations such as colorful balloons, streamers, and signs. These specific decorations are choosen for a reason.


Tone is the mood or feeling that the text has.

kids neon dance party

Birthday Party Example:

During a birthday party, you might hear certain happy sounds like laughing, music, and loud talking. That helps to set the mood or feeling of a party.


Organization is how the text is set up so that you can understand it.

food and gift tables

Birthday Party Example:

At a party, you see a table with all the food spread out and a separate table for presents instead of everything just tossed on the floor in a heap.


Theme is the lesson, moral, or message the author is teaching you.

empty cake plate

Birthday Party Example:

You show up two hours late to the party, so your friend does not share any birthday cake with you. You have learned the importance of arriving on time!

Think about how word choice, author's craft, tone, organization, and theme all have evidence at a birthday party.

You would also have evidence of all five elements a football game, at Thanksgiving, at the beach, at the zoo, etc. However, it would be different for each one of those situations.

You would be able to look at the elements and determine in which situation you are. If author's craft includes an end zone and a football, you are at a football game. If word choice includes a sign that reads "Don't Feed the Animals," you are at the zoo.

The same thing happens in text.

All texts have word choice, author's craft, tone, organization, and a theme. You look at each as different evidence in different books.

Knowing about word choice, author's craft, tone, organization, and theme help you know what to look for in a text. They help you focus and understand the book in the best way you can.

Remember that authors include all of these elements in a text on purpose! There is a reason why they are included, and you need to think about those reasons.

  • Are you ready to apply these elements to an actual text?

Then, let's go to the Got It? section!

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