Theme refers to the story’s underlying message, or 'big idea.' In other words, what ideas/beliefs/perception about life is the author trying to convey through the story or poem?  It transcends cultural barriers as it is usually universal in nature. It will revolve around life and human experiences (love, friendship, honesty, war, poverty etc). Often, a story or poem may have more than one theme.  Theme is revealed through title, key phrases or statements about big ideas, the way characters change and learn about the lessons of life.  It is not directly presented but one can infer the theme through the characters, action, and setting that make up the story.  The theme is not the topic but the point that is made by the author about the topic.  It teaches you a valuable lesson about life.