Reading for Main Idea: Aesop’s Fables


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Identifying a main idea is a key reading comprehension skill. In non-fiction, the main idea is usually stated in one or two sentences, often at the beginning of the passage. Some texts, though, do not have a clear topic sentence or a directly stated main idea. Works of fiction, like novels and short stories, may have an unclear or contradictory meaning. These works often raise questions and explore themes without having a clear message to communicate. They encourage you to think, but don’t tell you what to think.

There are stories, however, that do have a clear message. Fables are very simple stories that communicate a moral lesson. For this practice test, we’ve adapted a set of fables by the Greek storyteller Aesop. Read each story and see if you can identify Aesop’s main idea, what we might call the moral of the story.

All of these stories are adapted from Aesop’s Fables, translated by George Fyler Townsend.