Do young children have a sense of theme in the stories they read or hear? Can they talk about themes in books? Piaget believed that children below the age of 7 and 8 were incapable of critical thinking and Applebee that young children lack the ability to generate themes for narrative. In a series of studies of preschool, kindergarten, second-, and fourth-grade children, Susan Lehr challenges these long-held views. She finds that children can and do talk about what they know, think, and perceive in the books they hear and read. The central focus of Lehr's research is the child's perspective of meaning, which she explores by discussing in depth what children have to say in response to the books they share. The author discusses the child's sense of theme in relation to critical thinking, the use of well-written literature, and the reading process.